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Owner Eugene Melnyk cleaned up winning 4 awards including Horse of the Year for his 3-year-old filly Sealy Hill.

The Sovereign Awards

Date: 12/15/2007

The 33rd annual Sovereign Awards, saluting outstanding achievement in Canadian Thoroughbred racing and breeding in 2007, were handed out at a ceremony on Friday night at the Frontenac Ballroom of the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in downtown Toronto. Unlike their U.S. equivalent, the Eclipse Awards, horses must have started at least three times in Canada to qualify, with a new exception for this year where juveniles need only make two starts in Canada. Winning connections are presented with a trophy which is a replica of English racing great St. Simon.

Eugene Melnyk accepts the Horse of the Year award for his filly Sealy Hill from Dick Bonnycastle, Chairman of the Jockey Club of Canada.
Owner and breeder Eugene Melnyk was the star of the show, coming up on stage to claim a total of four trophies. Not only was he named Outstanding Owner, but his homebred Sealy Hill was named Champion 3-Year-Old Filly, Champion Female Turf Horse, and Canada's Horse of the Year. In a campaign where she won 4 of 4 starts with 3 seconds, the daughter of Point Given was the first ever winner of the Canadian Triple Tiara, sweeping the Labatt Woodbine Oaks and Bison City Stakes on the Woodbine Polytrack, and then the Wonder Where. She ended the year with a close second to European shipper Mrs. Lindsay in the E.P. Taylor Stakes (G1). Before dinner was served, Melnyk was presented with the Triple Tiara trophy, which could not be awarded on the track after the Wonder Where as the result of the Bison City was still under appeal at the time (her disqualification was reversed by the Ontario Racing Commission).

Melnyk said of his star filly, "When you see things come together in our program, like Sealy Hill, it is most satisfying." When claiming his award as champion owner, he said, "When I look at the (awards ceremony) program here and see who has won this award before, I see names like Ernie Samuel, Frank Stronach, Kinghaven Farm, Steve Stavro. These were people I looked up to, and I always wanted to do what they were doing. This business is a lot of work but it's the most fun you can have. It takes so much patience and money to invest in this business. The decisions you make each autumn, well, you don't see the results for four years."

Mark Casse accepts the Outstanding Trainer award from Sam Lima, president of the Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club.
Like her owner, Sealy Hill's trainer and jockey also earned year-end honours. Mark Casse repeated as Outstanding Trainer, with such runners in 2007 as Sealy Hill, Natalma (G3) winner Clearly Foxy, Alywow winner Silky Smooth, Breeders' Stakes winner Marchfield, and Officer Cherrie, winner of the Natalma (G3) and the Ontario Debutante. He led all trainers at Woodbine with 84 wins in 367 starts, with 76 seconds and 46 thirds, with total earnings of $5,766,880, about $2.5 million more than the nearest trainer on the earnings list. Casse divides his time during the year between Toronto and Ocala. He is married to Tina and is the father of seven children. “I have been very fortunate since I started out with just two or three horses. I am quite proud that I have people working for me who have been with me for a very long time. My team is very loyal, they know me and what I want done. That’s what makes us so strong."

Patrick Husbands accepts his 5th Sovereign as Outstanding Jockey from Lou Cauz, Managing Director of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall Of Fame.

Jockey Patrick Husbands was named Outstanding Jockey of 2007, his fifth time winning, with most of his stakes wins being aboard horses owned by Eugene Melnyk and trained by Mark Casse. The native of Bridgetown, Barbados led all riders at Woodbine with 149 wins in 717 starts, with 147 seconds and 89 thirds, earning $9,171,168 for the year. He is best remembered not only as Mark Casse's regular rider but also as the jockey of 2003 Canadian Triple Crown winner Wando, which earned him accolades in his home country including the Barbados Service Star.

Tyler Pizarro was named Outstanding Apprentice Jockey, as his 124 victories and $5.2 million in earnings were tops among all apprentices at Woodbine this year.

Lover's Talk was named Outstanding Broodmare, a lifetime achievement award. Of her 14 foals, 12 raced, including stakes winners Love Grows, Barley Talk, Torrid Affair, Wild Whiskey, and Lyrically. The daughter of Vice Regent has recorded total progeny earnings of $1,768,047 to date.

Dr. Jerrold Schwartz and his wife accept the award for Champion Male Turf Horse for Cloudy's Knight from Woodbine CEO David Wilmot.
Chicago-based 7-year-old gelding Cloudy's Knight was named Champion Male Turf Horse. He shipped in to Woodbine for three stakes races after finishing a close second in the Stars and Stripes Handicap (G2) at Arlington. The Frank Kirby trainee was second in the Nijinsky (G2) and then won both the Sky Classic (G2) and then the Canadian International (G1) by a nose over European shipper Ask, under regular rider Ramsey Zimmerman. Cloudy's Knight earned $1,762,868 in nine starts in 2007, with 3 wins, 3 seconds,and 1 third. Owner and breeder Dr. Jerrold Schwartz was on hand to accept the trophy.

Frank Stronach's Adena Springs edged out Eugene Melnyk for the Outstanding Breeder award. Their stakes winners in Canada this year include Awesome Action, Executive Choice, Just Rushing, and The Niagara Queen. 148 Adena Springs horses made a total of 844 North American starts, with 132 wins including 13 stakes. Farm manager Mike Rogers was on hand to accept the trophy.

Owner K.K. Sangara accepts the award for Champion Older Female for Financingavailable from Andy Bryant, President of Horse Racing Alberta.

The 6-year-old grey mare Financingavailable took home two awards for her owner K.K. Sangara, as she was named Champion Older Female and also Champion Sprinter, a category in which three of the four finalists were distaffers. She raced exclusively at Woodbine in 2007, with wins in the Ballade, the Victoriana on turf, the Classy'n Smart, and then the Ontario Fashion. The daughter of Kiridashi earned $451,151 in 7 starts this year.

Kodiak Kowboy, winner of the Bashford Manor and Saratoga Special, was named Champion 2-Year-Old Male. Although he mostly raced in the U.S., closing out he year with a 3rd place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1), he qualified for the award under the new rule where juveniles only need 2 Canadian starts. The Steve Asmussen trainee started off his career with a close fourth place finish in a 1/4 mile dash at Woodbine, and then after breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs, he returned to Woodbine to win the Victoria Stakes.

Prince of Wales Stakes winner Alezzandro was named Champion 3-Year-Old Male, edging out stablemate Leonnatus Anteas. Alezzandro made his debut in May a winning one, and after finishing second in the Queen's Plate to Mike Fox, came back to take the second jewel of the Triple Crown. He closed out the year with a runner-up finish in the Ontario Derby.

Owner Bob Cheema accepts the Champion 2-year-old Filly for Dancing Allstar from Jim Lawson, a steward of the Jockey Club of Canada.
Bahadur "Bob" Cheema was the other multiple winning owner on the night. Road warrior True Metropolitan repeated as Champion Older Male, with wins in the Dominion Day and Autumn Stakes at Woodbine, as well as the Westerner and Speed to Spare at Northlands and the Winston Churchill at Hastings. His filly Dancing Allstar was named Champion 2-Year-Old Filly, in a year where she starts off the year with a win in the My Dear at Woodbine and runner-up finishes in the Colin against males and then the Ontario Debutante. Shipped back to Hastings Park, she won the last three starts of the year, the CTHS Sales Stakes, the Diamond Futurity, and then the Fantasy. Both of Cheema's winners are trained by Terry Jordan.

In the media categories, Horse Racing Alberta and White Iron Productions took home the award for Outstanding Film/Video/Broadcast for "The Alberta Derby", which was shown on CTV in Alberta. Allan Besson wrote the Outstanding Newspaper Article, "Graduation Day Celebration" which appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press. Michael Burns Jr. won the Outstanding Photograph award for the seventh time, with "By Dawn's Early Light" which appeared in the Toronto Star. Finally, Paul Wiecek wrote the Outstanding Feature Story with "Holding Life by the Reins" which appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press. This is Wiecek's fifth Sovereign Award.

Before the equine awards were handed out, the Jockey Club of Canada awarded a Special Sovereign Award to Louis Romanet, Director General of France Galop and Chairman of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities. The Special Sovereign was last awarded in 2002. Romanet is heralded as a principal architect behind contemporary French horse racing, and just days before the awards ceremony, was instrumental in securing a new sponsorship deal for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) which increased its purse to 5 million euros, making it the second richest race in the world. While at the help of the International Cataloguing Standards Committee, he assisted the Jockey Club of Canada in establishing the Canadian Graded Stakes Committee. He steps down from his position at France Galop at the end of the year, but will continue to serve as chairman of the IFHA until October 2009.

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.

Sealy Hill was Champion 3-year-old Filly, Champion Turf Female, and Horse of the Year

Cloudy's Knight was Champion Turf Male

Kodiak Kowboy was Champion Two-Year-Old Male

Alezzandro was Champion 3-year-old Male

True Metropolitan was Champion Older Male for the second year in a row

Outstanding Trainer Mark Casse (far left) with Sealy Hill at Turfway Park
Horse of the Year Sealy Hill 113 Cloudy's Knight 90 True Metropolitan 62 Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Dancing Allstar 118 Officer Cherrie 114 Authenicat 52 Champion Two-Year-Old Colt Kodiak Kowboy 159 Bear Holiday 75 Stuck in Traffic 58 Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Sealy Hill 174 Bear Now 109 Dance to My Tune 19 Champion Three-Year-Old Male Alezzandro 109 Leonnatus Anteas 102 Mike Fox 46 Champion Older Female on the Main Track Financingavailable 149 She's Indy Money 81 Monashee 65 Champion Older Male on the Main Track True Metropolitan 193 Palladio 48 Stonetown 33 Champion Female Turf Horse Sealy Hill 181 Essential Edge 60 Financingavailable 36 Champion Male Turf Horse Cloudy's Knight 188 Sky Conqueror 87 Eccentric 35 Champion Sprinter Financingavailable 109 Stradivinsky 63 She's Indy Money 27 Bear Now 27 Outstanding Broodmare Lover's Talk 71 Victorious Answer 46 Fascigrant 42 Outstanding Apprentice Jockey Tyler Pizarro 193 Matt Moore 58 Dean Deverell 39 Outstanding Jockey Patrick Husbands 173 Emma-Jayne Wilson 62 Mario Gutierrez 21 Emile Ramsammy 21 Outstanding Trainer Mark Casse 166 Terry Jordan 45 Reade Baker 44 Outstanding Owner in Canada Melnyk Racing Stables 119 Bahadur Cheema 111 Bear Stables 33 Outstanding Breeder Adena Springs 127 Eugene Melnyk 118 Gustav Schickedanz 31

The 48th Highlander Pipes and Drums carry in the permanent trophy for the Sovereign Awards ceremony.
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