Standardbred Canada announced the winners of the 2022 O’Brien Awards, honouring Canada’s best in harness racing over the past season, at the Black-Tie Gala on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. It was the 34th edition of the O’Brien Awards, named in honour of the late Joe O’Brien, an outstanding horseman and member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame.
Bulldog Hanover stole the show, winning the Somebeachsomewhere Horse of the Year title, taking the Older Pacing Horse division, and he was also honoured as the 2022 recipient of the prestigious Cam Fella Award. Some of the other big winners on the night included Millar Farms, winner of the Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly category with homebred Silver Label and taking home a second consecutive O’Brien in the Armstrong Breeder of the Year category. Richard Moreau continues to add O’Brien Awards to his trophy case, picking up his 10th consecutive title as Canada’s Trainer of the Year. Owner Brad Grant had two O’Brien winners — Bulldog Hanover, and Atlanta in the Older Trotting Mare category.
Bulldog Hanover captivated the hearts of harness racing fans across North America, becoming the fastest Standardbred the sport has ever seen when he stopped the clock in 1:45.4 in the William R. Haughton Memorial at The Meadowlands. It was a memorable season for the Jack Darling-trained son of Shadow Play that saw him win 14 races in 16 starts for $1,858,210 in earnings. Some of Bulldog Hanover’s other notable victories came in the Dan Patch Stakes and the Hoosier Pacing Derby at Hoosier Park, the Dayton Pacing Derby, the Canadian Pacing Derby, the Breeders Crown and the TVG Open. Bulldog Hanover was recognized for his exploits on the racetrack as well as his ability to be an outstanding ambassador for harness racing with the Cam Fella Award.
Millar Farms, recognized with the Armstrong Breeder of the Year award, was the leading breeder in the 2022 Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) program and, in total, saw 34 starters earn more than $2.1 million. Some of the most notable 2022 starters bred by Millar Farms were O’Brien Award winner Silver Label and Simcoe Stakes winner Velvet Stinger.
Richard Moreau added a record 10th O’Brien trophy to his mantle, with another Trainer of the Year title. In 2022, he topped the charts for all trainers in Canada with 330 wins and $5,254,296 in purse earnings. He was the leading trainer of 2022 at Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs and Woodbine Mohawk Park. Two of Moreau’s trainees also picked up O’Brien Awards — Gaines Hanover in the two-year-old trotting colt category and Fashion Frenzie in the Older Trotting Horse division.
James MacDonald was honoured as the Keith Waples Driver of the Year for the second consecutive year following a career best season. MacDonald shattered his personal bests last season, winning 451 races with more than $9.9 million in purse earnings. In addition to leading all Canadian drivers in wins and earnings during this career season, he added a second consecutive Lampman Cup, which is awarded to the leading driver in the OSS program. Other accomplishments include winning the inaugural Charles Juravinski Memorial Cup at Flamboro Downs with Linedrive Hanover in a Canadian-record time, as well as an historic night at Woodbine Mohawk Park which saw him win eight races on a card — a new WEG/OJC record. MacDonald was the regular driver for three O’Brien Award winners: So Much More, Adare Castle and Twin B Archie.
In 2022, Dr. Ian Moore, winner of the O’Brien Award of Horsemanship, enjoyed one of his best years to date, finishing with a career high $2.4 million in earnings. Most of his success came courtesy of two-year-old pacing colt Stockade Seelster, winner of the O’Brien Award for his division and O’Brien finalist Tattoo Artist. Stockade Seelster swept every race in the provincial program this year and added a Metro Pace title at Woodbine Mohawk Park, giving Moore the first Metro of his career. Tattoo Artist finished with more than $1 million in earnings in a single season for the first time in his four-year racing career.
Samuel Fillion, honoured as the Future Star winner, improved from 100 victories and $574,000 in purses in his first Future Star-nominated season in 2021 to 164 wins and more than $1.1 million in 2022.The Quebec native won the Quebec / Eastern Ontario Regional Driving Championship and was one of the leading drivers last seasons at Rideau Carleton Raceway.
Sylvia Hanover won the O’Brien as the country’s top two-year-old pacing filly. The daughter of Always B Miki finished off her nine-start year with a record of 8-1-0, and $903,300 in the bank for trainer Shawn Steacy. Owned by Hudson Standardbred Stable of Quebec, her list of accomplishments included victories in the Champlain Stakes, Shes A Great Lady Final and the Breeders Crown Final, which were all held at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
In the Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt division, Stockade Seelster was awarded the O’Brien trophy. The son of State Treasurer had a stellar year for trainer Dr. Ian Moore, finishing with eight wins in 11 tries and bankrolling $917,470. He was perfect in the provincial program (five-for-five), capped off with a win in the OSS Super Final. His biggest payday came from his win in the $900,000 Metro Pace.
Silver Label won the title of Three-Year-Old Pacing Filly of the year. In 2022, victories for the daughter of Bettors Delight included the final of the SBOA and the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final, and her seasonal earnings came in at $498,138.
In the Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt division, Pebble Beach, the leading money winning horse in Canada with $1.038 million earned on Canadian soil, won the O’Brien Award. The son of Downbytheseaside was a perfect five-for-five over the Woodbine Mohawk Park oval this year. Trained by Noel Daley, Pebble Beach’s signature wins in Canada included the $1 million Pepsi North America Cup and the Breeders Crown final, both of which he won in dominating fashion.
So Much More picked up a second O’Brien trophy for her connections in the Older Pacing Mare division. Trained by Don Beatson, the daughter of Big Jim continued her dominance in Canada’s upper fillies and mares ranks in 2022, where she made 34 starts, winning 16 times and earning $427,707. She had 29 top-three finishes overall, which included a third-place finish in the Breeders Crown final. In 2022, she also surpassed the $1 million mark for career earnings and achieved her 50th lifetime win.
Righteous Resolve won the Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly honours. Just like her full brother — Duly Resolved, did a year ago — Righteous Resolve had a dominant freshman campaign, winning eight of 10 races while earning $623,704. The daughter of Resolve won the Champlain Stakes, the Peaceful Way and four Ontario Sires Stakes events, including the OSS Super Final. She also finished third in the Breeders Crown final for trainer John Bax.
In the Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt division, Gaines Hanover won the O’Brien Award. The son of Cantab Hall won four of eight starts last season and bankrolled $493,851 in earnings. The Richard Moreau trainee won the Champlain Stakes in September, but his biggest moment came when he captured the final of the Breeders Crown in October.
Adare Castle was crowned champion in the Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly division. This daughter of Muscle Mass, trained by Mark Etsell, matched her win total from a year ago (seven) and earned $668,654 in the process. Her stakes wins included four Ontario Sires Stakes Gold events, the SBOA Final and the Casual Breeze. She finished second in the Elegantimage, the Simcoe and the OSS Super Final.
Twin B Archie captured his first O’Brien Award in the Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt division. In 2022, the sophomore gelding by Archangel racked up six wins and $490,502 in earnings for trainer Scott McEneny. He won the SBOA Final, two OSS Gold events and was second in the Goodtimes Final.
Older Trotting Mare Atlanta picked up her second O’Brien Award in this division, the first coming in 2019. The daughter of Chapter Seven, trained by Ron Burke, won six races in 15 starts and amassed $493,721 in 2022, with stakes wins that included the Armbro Flight and the Miss Versatility Final. She also finished second in the Breeders Crown.
In the Older Trotting Horse category, Fashion Frenzie won the O’Brien after a season where he won seven of nine starts and more than $226,000 in purses for trainer Richard Moreau. Most of the victories for the son of Archangel were in Woodbine Mohawk Park’s Open Trot, with his notable stakes win coming at Georgian Downs where he won the Earl Rowe Memorial and set a new track record in the process.
The Media Excellence Awards and Outstanding Groom Award were also presented during the O’Brien Awards Gala.
Dave Briggs won his fourth Media Excellence Award in the Outstanding Written Work category for his feature, "There's still some magic left in the old game." The story, which was published on July 19 on Harness Racing Update, covers this past summer's magical evening of harness racing at The Meadowlands highlighted by historic performances from Canadian stars Bulldog Hanover and Beach Glass.
Horse Racing Alberta added its third Media Excellence Award in the Outstanding Broadcast category for the "2022 HRA Fun For Fans Promo," a video that tells the story of the Alberta Standardbred Horse Association's Fun For Fans charity initiative that has spanned 10 years and raised more than $250,000 for charities province-wide. Produced by Jeff Robillard of Horse Racing Alberta and Mike Little of Shine Light Entertainment, the video first aired on the Horse Racing Alberta website and social media channels on Sept. 22.
Defending champion in the Outstanding Photography category, Clive Cohen captured his seventh Media Excellence Award for his photograph, "The Long Shadow." The photo, which captures a striking bird's-eye view of a Standardbred casting a long shadow on the racetrack, was taken on June 2 at Woodbine Mohawk Park and published on the track's social media feeds.
Kayla Chappell, of Millet, Alta., was recognized with the Outstanding Groom Award. Chappell has worked for the Duane Marfisi stable for just over a year, paddocking, warming up, shipping and grooming horses. Before relocating to Ontario, she groomed horses for several Alberta-based trainers, and she was also a member of the Alberta Standardbred Horse Association social media team. Chappell is known for her attention to detail and treats every horse with great care. In addition to grooming, she has both her trainer’s and driver’s licenses and took part in the 2022 International Women’s Day Race at Woodbine Mohawk Park last March.
A full list of winners and connections follows:
Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly
SO MUCH MORE
Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly
TWIN B ARCHIE
O’Brien Award of Horsemanship
Trainer of the Year
Future Star Award
SOMEBEACHSOMEWHERE HORSE OF THE YEAR
CAM FELLA AWARD WINNER
Outstanding Written Work – Dave Briggs for "There's still some magic left in the old game."
Outstanding Film, Video, Broadcast – Jeff Robillard, Horse Racing Alberta and Mike Little, Shine Light Entertainment for the Fun For Fans Promo Video.
Outstanding Photography – Clive Cohen for “The Long Shadow”
Outstanding Groom Award – Kayla Chappell, Millet, AB