Standardbred Canada is pleased to announce the finalists for the Outstanding Groom Award, sponsored for the sixth year by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.
This award was introduced in 2015 and recognizes grooms who put their horses first, treat them with kindness and outstanding care, regardless of the horse or its ability, in addition to having a strong work ethic and being a good sportsman.
Submissions were received and considered for grooms from across the country.
Congratulations to the 2021 finalists, Susie McNair of Guelph, Ont., and Jacie Woodward of Peterborough, Ont.
The winner will be announced during the 2021 Virtual O’Brien Awards Gala broadcast scheduled for Sunday, February 6 starting at 7:00 p.m. (EST)
Susie is a lifelong industry participant, working alongside her father, Hall of Fame horseman Bud Fritz during the 80s and 90s and was the groom for Hall of Fame member and North America Cup winner, Apaches Fame. Since 2005, Susie has worked alongside her husband, trainer Gregg McNair, and they usually have a stable of 50 to 60 horses.
According to her nominator, she is the first person at the barn in the morning and the last out each night. “She treats the horses like her children, with the utmost care and always goes that extra mile. No horses in Susie’s care get a shortcut.
“You know when Susie is looking after a horse at the racetrack. The horse and everything they wear is immaculate. She goes above and beyond for every single horse in her care.”
Some of the top champions Susie has groomed over the years include: past O’Brien winner Precocious Beauty, Aracache Hanover, Prescient Beauty, and Three Of Clubs to name a few. More recently, she has been responsible for the care of 2020 O’Brien Award finalist Karma Seelster, Mayhem Seelster, Bettor Son, Just Daisy and Fade Out.
Susie McNair with Karma Seelster (L) and Tall Dark Beauty (R)
Jacie Woodward has been working alongside her father, trainer Jason Woodward, for about 10 years and also does catch paddocks for many trainers that race at her home track, Kawartha Downs. Magnify Bliss — nicknamed “Wheels” — Jacieslittleman, two horses that Jacie co-owns are under her care along with Johny Cash, Excaliber Seelster, Out On A Mission and Aoki.
In addition to spending about 30 hours a week working with the horses, Jacie is currently attending Sir Sanford Fleming College for Occupational Physiotherapy and also manages to squeeze in part-time work at a local pharmacy.
One of Jacie’s nominators describes her as “unassuming, hard working and very sensitive to a horse’s needs...Her dedication is a great quality and her ability to take the ups and downs of this sport on the chin amaze me in one so young. She works hard without complaint, is the first to congratulate others who are successful, and the long days on the road to Flamboro (from Peterborough) don’t bother her at all.”
Jacie Woodward with Magnify Bliss (L) and Jacieslittleman (R)
Previous winners of the Outstanding Groom Award include:
2020 - Brady Jackson
2019 - Rachel Dupuis
2018 - Scott Lecain & Trevor Forgie
2017 - Chantel Gillis
2016 - Teesha Symes
2015 - Cindy Acton
Standardbred Canada was overwhelmed by the many worthy submissions, and SC and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation would like to thank everyone who took the time to nominate an outstanding groom.
The 2021 Virtual O’Brien Awards Gala takes place on Sunday, February 6, 2022 and will be available for viewing on standardbredcanada.ca from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. (EST). Keep up to date on the event details by following the O’Brien Facebook Event Page.