Day At The Track

Standardbred Canada bestows O'Brien Awards

06:22 AM 03 Feb 2020 NZDT
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On Saturday, February 1, Standardbred Canada announced the winners for the 2019 O’Brien Award at the 31st edition of the annual O’Brien Awards Black Tie Gala held at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale hotel in Mississauga, Ont. The O’Brien Awards honour Canada’s best in harness racing over the past season and are named in honour of the late Joe O’Brien, an outstanding horseman and member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.

Richard Moreau of Puslinch, Ont., took home an unprecedented seventh consecutive title as Canada’s Trainer of the Year.  Campbellville-based trainer Luc Blais, the runner-up in that category, had a major coup as his trainee Forbidden Trade took divisional honours in the Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt category as well as the most coveted award of the evening, the Somebeachsomewhere Horse of the Year.

Louis-Philippe Roy of Guelph, Ont., won his second consecutive title as Driver of the Year, while Gilles Barrieau of Saint John, New Brunswick, was honoured with the O’Brien Award of Horsemanship.  The partnership of Al Libfeld & Marvin Katz was recognized as the top Canadian breeders with the Armstrong Breeder of the Year Award.

Last year, Richard Moreau trained 285 winners and trained horses to more than $4.5 million in earnings. He topped the trainer standings in earnings and wins in Canada, and at Woodbine Mohawk Park. He trained O’Brien finalist Double A Mint and the talented older pacing horse Jimmy Freight, a winner of more than $436,000.  One of Jimmy Freight’s top performances last year was his Gold Cup victory on June 15 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.  Other top performers from the Moreau Stable included top pacing mare Sandbetweenurtoes, a winner of more than $127,000, older trotter B Yoyo, a winner of more than $197,000 and two-year-old pacing colt YS Mathis, a winner of more than $256,000.

Moreau has surpassed $2 million in purse earnings for the past 10 consecutive years and banked more than $1 million for 20 consecutive years.

Five years ago, Louis-Philippe Roy was driving at the Quebec Fairs and his ascent up the driving ranks is almost unprecedented as the native of Mont-Joli, Que. won his second consecutive Driver of the Year trophy.  Roy’s win was the result of another stellar year that included 293 wins and more than $6.2 million in purse earnings, which put him second best in the country. He’s surpassed $5 million in earnings for the past three seasons and for the past three years he’s shared his good fortune by donating a full card’s earnings to a food bank in his hometown. Roy was the regular driver for two O’Brien Award winners -- two-year-old pacing filly Alicorn and two-year-old trotting colt HP Royal Theo.

The partnership of Al Libfeld & Marvin Katz has evolved into one of the harness racing’s most respected breeding enterprises and they continue to be at or near the top of the charts for Canadian breeders. The 2019 season  was no exception and for the fourth time in the past five years, they were recognized for their continuing contributions with the Armstrong Breeder of the Year Award.  

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