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The 48th Highlander Pipes and Drums carry out the permanent trophy after the Sovereign Awards ceremony.

The Sovereign Awards

Date: 12/16/2006

It was a full house at the ballroom in the InterContinental Toronto Centre Hotel for the 32nd annual Sovereign Awards, saluting outstanding achievement in Canadian Thoroughbred racing. Unlike their U.S. equivalent, the Eclipse Awards, horses must have started at least three times in Canada to qualify. Winning connections are presented with a trophy which is a replica of English racing great St. Simon.

Carolyn and Rob Costigan (center) accept the Horse of the Year award for their parent's filly Arravale.

Arravale took home top honours, being named Horse of the Year as well as Champion Turf Female. After an easy win in the Alywow at Woodbine at 6 1/2 furlongs, the Macdonald Benson trainee shipped to Hollywood where she was third in the American Oaks (G1). She scored her first of two Grade 1 wins in the Del Mar Oaks, then came home to finish a close second in the Canadian (G2) and then won the E.P. Taylor Stakes (G1). Despite being a 3-year-old, she did not qualify for the 3-year-old filly award because she raced exclusively on turf. Carolyn and Rob Costigan, children of owner Robert Costigan, were on stage to accept the trophies.

Carolyn read from a prepared statement: "We are grateful to own such a wonderful filly. It has been an overwhelming experience, and for us as owners, a humbling experience, as we watched Arravale go from race to race with yet another awe-inspiring run. I have a very special memory, when I learned how to break yearlings, and it was with Arravale that I did so. I was the first person to sit on Arravale's back." She explained that Arravale suffered a setback early in the season due to a virus, and did not enjoy working out over the training track while Polytrack was being installed at Woodbine. She said, "it took a Hall of Fame trainer, Macdonald Benson, to start the season in a 6 1/2 furlong race (...) and then cross the continent for the Del Mar Oaks. But the highlight for the team was to win a Grade 1 race, at home, in Canada, in the E.P. Taylor Stakes. We look forward to 2007, and with God willing, we hope to fly the flag for Canada again."

Mark Casse accepts the Outstanding Trainer award from Lynne Hindmarsh of the Ontario HBPA
Trainer Mark Casse took home his first Sovereign Award this year as Outstanding Trainer. He led all trainers at Woodbine with eleven stakes wins and $4,271,164 in purse earnings. He is well known for his work with 2-year-olds, as he also led the Woodbine trainer stats with 24 juvenile winners, the ninth year in a row he has led this category. Among his top horses this year were Arch Hall, Howaboutrightnow, Skip Code, Sprung, and Seaside Retreat. Casse came up to the stage earlier in the evening to accept the Champion Three-Year-Old Filly award for Kimchi, who was only the second filly in the history of the Canadian Triple Tiara to have a chance to complete the sweep. Kimchi won the Labatt Woodbine Oaks and the Bison City before finishing fourth in the Wonder Where over a yielding turf course. The daughter of Langfuhr completed the season with 2 wins and a second in 5 starts, earning $482,588.

Emma-Jayne Wilson accepts her second Outstanding Apprentice Jockey award from Woodbine television host Jeff Bratt

Emma-Jayne Wilson repeated as Outstanding Apprentice Jockey, after taking him this award as well as the Eclipse Award last year. She again won the Woodbine riding title in 2006, capped off her 144-win season, again leading all riders, with a score in the last stakes race of the year, the Valedictory Stakes aboard Marsh Side. She said that she rides "not for the awards, but for the love of the game. I'm fulfilling a lifelong dream." Later in the evening, before presenting another award, Woodbine's CEO David Willmot commended Wilson for her public relations role, noting how she never abuses the horses and is always seen patting them on the neck, rubbing them between the ears, and generally treating them with respect. He commented, "This is genuine, not staged, and with animal rights activists watching closely this is what the sport needs."

Todd Kabel won the Sovereign Award for Outstanding Jockey for the fourth year in a row and sixth overall. The Manitoba native led the Woodbine jockey colony with 16 stakes winners and rode six of the Sovereign Award finalists this year. As he approaches the 300-win milestone in his career, has has not ridden at less than a 17% winning percentage since 1992. Kabel was not on hand to pick up his trophy.

Tammy Samuel-Balaz and trainer Mark Frostad accept the Outstanding Owner award for Sam-Son Farms from Woodbine CEO David Wilmot.
Perennial winners Sam-Son Farms were back, taking home the award for Outstanding Owner for the eighth time, having topped the $2 million mark in purse earnings under trainer Mark Frostad. Their top horse this year was Catch the Thrill, who received the Sovereign for Champion Two-Year-Old Filly. The daughter of A.P. Indy won 2 races in 5 starts, including the Princess Elizabeth Stakes. She finished the year finishing a close second in the Ontario Lassie Stakes.

Dream Smartly was named Outstanding Broodmare. The 14-year-old daughter of Smarten is the dam of seven foals, five of which raced. Her daughter Blonde Executive was the Champion Sprinter in 2004, earning $610,591 for her owners, while this year she was represented by son Main Executive, winner of the Kennedy Road and New Providence Stakes, earning $439,997 this year. Dream Smartly's total progeny earnings are $1,529,529.

Frank Stronach's Adena Springs took home their second consecutive award for Outstanding Breeder, and sixth overall. Their homebreds include stakes winners Royal Challenger, Just Rushing, and Malakoff. As of November 14 they led all Canadian breeders in starts, wins, and purse earnings, the third year in a row they led all three categories. Farm manager Mike Rogers accepted the award on behalf of owner Frank Stronach.

Judith's Wild Rush owner Harvey Tenenbaum accepts the Champion Sprinter trophy from Jerry Bouma of Horse Racing Alberta

Judith's Wild Rush was a repeat winner of the Sovereign Award for Champion Sprinter. This year the grey won of Wild Rush won two stakes races for owner Harvey Tenenbaum, the Jacques Cartier and the Vigil, and shipped down to Saratoga to finish second in the Vanderbilt Breeders' Cup Handicap (G2). Owner Harvey Tenenbaum said, "There were a couple of races where we didn't do quite as well as expected and I attributed that to racing misadventure and I looked at Judith's Wild Rush and said you are one unlucky horse but we are the luckiest of owners."

Financingavailable was named Champion Older Female off a 5 for 8 season when she earned $490,000 for owner K.K. Sangara. The versatile daughter of Kiridashi has stakes wins over dirt, turf, and Polytrack, and at distances ranging from 7 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles. In those 3 losses this year the Lorne Richards trainee was never less than a neck back of the winner.

Owner Bob Cheema accepts the Champion Older Male award for his True Metropolitan from Harvey Warner, President of the Manitoba Jockey Club.
Western Canadian superstar True Metropolitan was definitely a road warrior this year, having raced at Hastings Park, Northlands Park, and Stampede Park before coming east for the Woodbine Slots Cup (G3), which he won by 4 lengths. The Terry Jordan trainee raced 12 times this year, with 7 wins, 3 seconds and a third, earning $416,090 for owner Bob Cheema. Cheema said, "I would like to thank trainer Lorne Richards who did the work on the horse out here at Woodbine, and also my regular trainer Terry Jordan, and all the people behind this horse." Commenting on the abnormally warm December in Toronto versus the abnormally cold one in Vancouver, he said, "You got the weather here we normally get out west." True Metropolitan was named as one of the three finalists for Horse of the Year.

Michael Byrne of the Jockey Club of Canada presents the Champion 2-year-old Male award to the Knob Hill Stable connections of Leonnatus Anteas.

The Champion Two-Year-Old Male category saw two horses complete the year undefeated. But it was Coronation Futurity winner Leonnatus Anteas who edged out Swynford winner Barilko in the voting. The son of Stormy Atlantic won on three different Woodbine surfaces, the temporary inner dirt in the Vandal, the turf course for the Cup and Saucer, and then the Coronation Futurity on the new Polytrack. He earned $367,086 for owner Knob Hill Stables and the Estate of Steve Stavro. Stavro's grandchildren were on stage to accept the trophy on his behalf. Stavro's grandson said, "The Stavro family would like to thank (trainer) Kevin Attard and (jockey) Jono Jones, the grooms and hotwalkers for their combined efforts. My grandfather introduced me to the incredible sport of thoroughbred racing. It is truly incredible to watch your horse race, and even more to see him win." He explained that Steve Stavro, who passed away in April, named many of his horses after Macedonian historical figures, and that Leonnatus Anteas was a general in the Macedonian army and a close friend of Alexander the Great.

Stacie Roberts of The Game presents the Champion Male Turf Horse award for Sky Conqueror to owner William Sorokolit and trainer Darwin Banach.
Sky Conqueror was named Champion Turf Male off of two stakes wins for trainer Darwin Banach, the King Edward Breeders' Cup and Northern Dancer Breeders' Cup Turf. He finished the season a troubled third in the Canadian International (G1). The son of 1991 champion Sky Classic earned $894,170 from 3 wins and 3 thirds in 6 starts for owner-breeder William Sorokolit. Owner Bill Sorokolit paid tribute to Scotty Schulhofer who passed away just this week. He said, "Scotty trained for me in New York and when he retired, his son Randy took over. They both had a part in Sky Conqueror's early development." Sorokolit mentioned that last winter in Florida, Sky Conqueror suffered a "terrible case of the strangles. Randy worked tirelessly in getting him back to heath and out of quarantine." Sky Conqueror was named one of the three finalists for Horse of the Year.

Jim Lawson, a steward of the Jockey Club of Canada, presents the Champion 3-year-old Male award for Shillelagh Slew to owner David James.

Shillelagh Slew took home the Sovereign Award for Champion Three-Year-Old Male off of wins in the Prince of Wales (by disqualification), Canadian Derby (G3), and Ontario Derby (G3). The Quebec-bred son of Chief Seattle won 4 of 6 starts this year with earnings of $731,680 for owner David James and trainer Mike DePaulo. James said of his road-warrior horse, "It's been a wonderful experience. He was born in Quebec, raised in Quebec, raced in Ontario, and won the Canadian Derby in Alberta. I'm very pleased and honoured."

In the media categories, Horse Racing Alberta and White Iron Productions took home the award for Outstanding Film/Video/Broadcast for "Brother Derek's Run for the Roses", which was shown on CTV in Alberta. Brother Derek was owned by Albertan Cecil Peacock, and the documentary featured the horse's unlikely connections, including paralyzed trainer Dan Hendricks and jockey Alex Solis coming off a serious injury. Dave Perkins wrote the Outstanding Newspaper Article, "Threat from the Net" which appeared in the Toronto star. David Landry won the Outstanding Photograph award for the fifth time, with "Grab the Reins" which appeared in Canadian Thoroughbred magazine. Finally, Paul Wiecek wrote the Outstanding Feature Story with "Saddling Up for Slaughter" which appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press. This is Wiecek's fourth Sovereign Award.

Here are the vote totals for the top three finalists for all the awards along with photos for several of the equine winners. Votes were cast for the top three choices, 4 points for first, 2 for second, and 1 for third, in each category by voters and the top point getters were named the finalists. The voters are individuals serving in industry positions such as senior racing officials, racing journalists and commentators, as well as provincial representatives of the Breeding and Horsemen's organizations.

Arravale was Champion Turf Female and Horse of the Year

Shillelagh Slew was Champion 3-year-old Male

Catch the Thrill was Champion Two-Year-Old Filly

Sky Conqueror was Champion Male Turf Horse

Juddith's Wild Rush was Champion Sprinter for a second time

True Metropolitan was Champion Older Male
Horse of the Year Arravale 182 True Metropolitan 70 Sky Conqueror 67 Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Catch the Thrill 115 Sealy Hill 107 Midnight Shadow 85 Champion Two-Year-Old Colt Leonnatus Anteas 199 Barilko 113 Skip Code 46 Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Kimchi 156 Vestrey Lady 96 Strike Softly 76 Champion Three-Year-Old Colt Shillelagh Slew 214 Edenwold 92 Malakoff 39 Champion Older Female Financingavailable 220 Monashee 72 Hide and Chic 66 Champion Older Male True Metropolitan 222 Arch Hall 49 Judiths Wild Rush 41 Champion Female Turf Horse Arravale 236 Ambitious Cat 56 Strike Softly 55 Champion Male Turf Horse Sky Conqueror 230 Le Cinquieme Essai 86 Last Answer 38 Champion Sprinter Judiths Wild Rush 150 Main Executive 79 Just Rushing 45 Outstanding Broodmare Dream Smartly 129 Braverelle 124 Artic Bleu 65 Outstanding Apprentice Jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson 216 Justin Stein 103 Mario Gutierrez 32 Outstanding Jockey Todd Kabel 112 Patrick Husbands 84 Emma-Jayne Wilson 76 Outstanding Trainer Mark Casse 117 Reade Baker 82 Sid Attard 78 Terry Jordan 78 Outstanding Owner Sam-Son Farms 120 Bahadur Cheema 92 Stronach Stables 65 Outstanding Breeder Adena Springs 158 Sam-Son Farms 74 Gardiner Farms Ltd. 61

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