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The permanent Sovereign Award trophy on the runway before the start of the 2009 awareds ceremony.

The Sovereign Awards

Date: 01/29/2010

The 35th annual Sovereign Awards, saluting outstanding achievement in Canadian Thoroughbred racing and breeding in 2009, were handed out at a ceremony on Friday night at the Ultra Nightclub in downtown Toronto. Unlike their U.S. equivalent, the Eclipse Awards, horses must have started at least 3 times in Canada to qualify (2 for juveniles). Winning connections are presented with a trophy which is a replica of English racing great St. Simon.

Garrett O'Rourke representing Juddmonte Farms accepts the Horse of the Year trophy for Champs Elysees from Michael Byrne of the Jockey Club of Canada.
The equine star of the night was Champs Elysees, named both Champion Turf Male as well as Canada's Horse of the Year. The Juddmonte Farms homebred son of Danehill was in the money in all 4 Woodbine starts in 2009, capped off with a win in the Canadian International (G1), where he earned a career best Beyer of 106. He earned almost $3 million, topping all Sovereign Award nominees. Champs Elysees was the last Grade 1 winner in the Hall of Fame career of his trainer Bobby Frankel. Accepting the award for owner Prince Khalid Abdullah was Garrett O'Rourke, farm manager of Juddmonte in Lexington. O'Rourke said, "I guess it's fitting that he would win Horse of the Year in a country other than France that can pronounce his name right! When I saw that (master) trophy I wondered how I would ever get it through U.S. customs!" O'Rourke paid tribute to Frankel for making the decision to send Champs Elysees to campaign at Woodbine, a track he had shown an affinity for last year.

Eugene Melnyk (left) accepts the Broodmare of the Year awared from Glenn Sikura of the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society for Pico Teneriffe along with Bill Bristow.
The other multiple winner on the night was Eugene Melnyk, who racked up 4 trophies. He was named both outstanding owner and breeder for 2009, and also took home awards for Pico Teneriffe as Outstanding Broodmare, and for Marchfield, a son of Pico Teneriffe, voted Champion Older Male. As an owner, Melnyk took the Woodbine title with 40 wins, 15 more than the second place finisher. It was his first time voted outstanding breeder, a category that has been dominated by Frank Stronach in recent years. Marchfield won both the Dominion Day Stakes (G3) and defeated eventual Horse of the Year Champs Elysees in the Sky Classic (G2). Pico Teneriffe, a multiple graded stakes winner on the track, produced stakes winners Marchfield and Condor Bay, as well as stakes placed Westmoreland.

The connections of Champion 3-year-old Filly Milwaukee Appeal pose with the big trophy after the ceremony.
There have been some close votes in the past, but history was made when for the first time in its 35 year history the Sovereign Awards had a dead heat for win. In the voting for Champion Two-Year-Old Filly, Biofuel and Negligee tied with 135 points each. Biofuel, a daughter of Stormin Fever, won the Mazarine Stakes (G3) by 4 1/2 lengths and then finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita. Negligee, a daughter of Northern Afleet, was second in the Ontario Debutante than won the Alcibiades (G1) at Keeneland, followed by a sixth place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Roger Attfield won his seventh Sovereign Award as Outstanding Trainer, but his first since 2002. He led all Woodbine trainers with 15 stakes wins with 13 different horses, including Hollinger, who was named Champion Two-Year-Old Male off wins in the Cup and Saucer and the Coronation Futurity. Attfield won 52 out of 200 starts, and also led all trainers in turf wins with 19.

Roger Attfield accepts his seventh Sovereign as Outstanding Trainer from Stanley Fishman of the Ontario HBPA.
Sam-Son Farms rarely goes winless at the Sovereign Awards and this year was no exception as Queen's Plate winner Eye of the Leopard was named Champion Three-Year-Old Male. Along with that victory, the son of A.P. Indy also won the Plate Trial and was a close third in the Prince of Wales Stakes. Milwaukee Appeal, winner of the Woodbine Oaks, was named Champion Three-Year-Old Filly for owner Eugene George (C.E.C. Farms). She finished a close third against males in the Queen's Plate, beaten just a neck, and then lost the Prince of Wales in a photo finish.

Tribal Belle, who was an impressive 5 for 6 with 3 stakes wins, was named Champion Female Sprinter. The British Columbia-bred daughter of Tribunal won the Seaway (G3), Ontario Fashion, and Bessarabian Stakes for owner-breeder Canvasback Farms and trainer Terry Jordan. Field Commission, winner of the Vigil (G3) on Polytrack and the Nearctic (G2) on turf, was named Champion Male Sprinter.

Outstanding Apprentice Jockey winner Omar Moreno poses with the big statue after the ceremony.
Points of Grace was named Champion Female Turf Horse. The 4-year-old daughter of Point Given was 5 for 9 in 2009 for trainer Malcolm Pierce and owner Live Oak Plantation, including wins in the Dance Smartly (G2) and the River Memories. Serenading, a 5-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy, was named Champion Older Female. Racing for breeders John and Glenn Sikura (Hill 'N' Dale Farm), she was third in the Avowal and then won the Maple Leaf, both at Woodbine, and then shipped down to Churchill where she won the Falls City Handicap (G2) to close out the season. Glenn Sikura said of his first Sovereign award, "It's nice to be nominated for a Sovereign Award but winning is better!"

Patrick Husbands, who was the regular rider for most of Eugene Melnyk's horses, was named Outstanding Jockey for the third year in a row. He is the first Canadian based jockey to top $10 million in purse earnings in one year, and took his 6th Woodbine riding title with 188 wins, the fourth highest total in Woodbine history. Omar Moreno, who started the year at Northlands but successfully moved his tack to Woodbine, was named Outstanding Apprentice Jockey. He won 22 of 171 starts at the Toronto oval, finishing in the money 60 times. He credited his agent, retired jockey Jack Lauzon, for getting him winning mounts.

Retired jockey Sandy Hawley presents Patrick Husbands with his seventh Outstanding Jockey Sovereign Award.
In the media categories, Woodbine Entertainment Broadcast Department took home the award for Outstanding Film/Video/Broadcast for "The Queen's Plate - History, Heritage, and Hope", which was shown on CBC. Curtis Stock wrote the Outstanding Newspaper Article, "Lifetime of Horse Racing Brings Love, Happiness and Tragedy" which appeared in the Edmonton Journal. Michael Burns Sr. took home the Outstanding Photograph award for "A Reflection of Talent" which appeared in Canadian Thoroughbred Magazine. Finally, Bruce Walker wrote the Outstanding Feature Story with "A Penny for Your Thoughts" which appeared in Canadian Thoroughbred Magazine's Queen's Plate Souvenir Edition.

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.

Champs Elysees was Champion Turf Male and Horse of the Year

Milwaukee Appeal was Champion 3-Year-Old Filly

Marchfield was Champion Older Male on the Main Track

Field Commission was Champion Male Sprinter

Eye of the Leopard was Champion 3-year-old Male

Serenading was champion Older Female on the Main Track

Horse of the Year Champs Elysees 118 Milwaukee Appeal 50 Marchfield 40 Champion Two-Year-Old Filly Biofuel 135 Negligee 135 Bay to Bay 34 Champion Two-Year-Old Colt Hollinger 175 Bear Tough Guy 59 Ghost Fleet 33 Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Milwaukee Appeal 182 Hooh Why 89 Tasty Temptation 38 Champion Three-Year-Old Male Eye of the Leopard 130 El Brujo 100 Awesome Rhythm 72 Champion Older Female Serenading 152 Smart Surprise 110 Ginger Brew 56 Champion Older Male Marchfield 166 Ice Bear 59 Palladio 57 Champion Female Turf Horse Points of Grace 186 Much Obliged 55 Lady Shakespeare 50 Champion Male Turf Horse Champs Elysees 182 Rahy's Attorney 91 Marchfield 53 Champion Sprinter Field Commission 121 El Brujo 95 Hollywood Hit 54 Champion Female Sprinter Tribal Belle 179 Carem Crescent 65 Smart Surprise 54 Outstanding Broodmare Pico Teneriffe 75 Rahy's Hope 37 Destroy 34 Outstanding Apprentice Jockey Omar Moreno 175 Melanie Pinto 78 Tyrone Nelson 40 Outstanding Jockey Patrick Husbands 185 Eurico Rosa da Silva 63 Chantal Sutherland 62 Outstanding Trainer Roger Attfield 150 Mark Casse 73 Malcolm Pierce 55 Outstanding Owner in Canada Melynk Racing Stables 164 Bear Stables 65 Juddmonte Farms 58 Outstanding Breeder Eugene Melnyk 157 Adena Springs 100 Minshall Farms 15
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