Day At The Track

Island well represented in O'Brien Awards

02:50 AM 24 Dec 2020 NZDT
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Bugsy Maguire, with Austin Sorrie in the sulky
Bugsy Maguire, with Austin Sorrie in the sulky, head to the finish line in 2019 at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park
Jason Malloy Photo

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — The 2020 O’Brien Awards finalists have been announced and aged pacing mare finalist So Much More has etched herself into the harness racing history books as the first Island-foaled horse to be nominated for the prestigious national honour.

The O’Brien Awards were formed in 1989 to honour the late Joe O’Brien, a native of Alberton, but no horse born in the province has ever made the cut as a final nominee. So Much More’s home turf is New Haven, where Doug MacPhee raised the four-year-old Big Jim filly out of his own Ladysai.

MacPhee kept ownership of the filly when her training began and entrusted her to trainer Tom Weatherbie in Charlottetown to race at age two then sold her to Don Beatson of Ontario during her three-year-old campaign. Ontario has been kind to the Island filly with more than $200,000 earned in 2019 at age three then an even more spectacular season in 2020 with 12 wins and $300,037 earned while racing the best mares in North America.

She will be up against Lit De Rose in the category during the Jan. 31 virtual gala that will be broadcast on Standardbredcanada.ca in lieu of the normal banquet that is cancelled this year due to the pandemic.

The future star award is sure to have an Island winner with Montague native Austin Sorrie and Miltonvale Park native Rachel Andrew the finalists based on their 2020 Ontario campaigns.

Sorrie has molded himself into a busy catch-driver in Central Canada with 146 wins this year and $900,000 in purses, while Andrew races a string of horses as a trainer with 51 victories and $438,000 in prize money in 2020. An Islander has never won the future star award, with Sorrie and Stratford native Patrick Shepherd both being runner-up in past years.

Summerside native Dr. Ian Moore could have a bountiful evening with three of his trainees from his Ontario stable nominated for awards.

Century Farroh is nominated in the aged pacing horse category after winning the North American Breeders Crown in Indiana. North America Cup runner-up Tattoo Artist is another Moore nominee in the three-year-old pacing colt category. Moore’s other nominee is two-year-old pacing colt Lawless Shadow, a top horse in the Ontario Sires Stakes with more than $307,000 earned in his rookie campaign.

New Brunswick native Gilles Barrieau, now a permanent resident of P.E.I., is nominated for the O’Brien Award for horsemanship after a season with more than 170 driving wins and 44 training wins while boasting some of the best averages in the nation. Barrieau previously won the award in 2005 and 2019 and is nominated against Kelly Hoerdt of Alberta this year.

P.E.I. Scene

Live racing continues Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park as the only racing in the nation, except for Fraser Downs in B.C., for the foreseeable future. Harness racing in Alberta and Ontario is on hiatus due to provincewide lockdowns.

Reprinted with permission of The Cape Breton Post

Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at nicholasoakes@hotmail.com.

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