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The Blue and Silver Foresters pipers bringing in the Master Trophy before the start of the ceremony

The Sovereign Awards

Date: 04/10/2015

The 40th annual Sovereign Awards, saluting outstanding achievement in Canadian Thoroughbred racing and breeding in 2014, were handed out at a ceremony on Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. More than 300 guests were in attendance on the eve of the 2015 racing season. 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. Jason Portuondo, who hosts Woodbine's telecasts, was the master of ceremonies. Before presenting the Horse of the Year trophy, Jockey Club of Canada Chief Steward Jim Lawson reiterated what he said a year ago, that the racing industry is on solid footing once again but we need to continue our efforts.

Jim Lawson, Chief Steward of the Jockey Club of Canada, presents the Horse of the Year award to Mark Casse, trainer of Lexie Lou

The Horse of the Year title went to Lexie Lou, who was also named Champion Three-Year-Old Filly and Champion Turf Female. After being purchased by owner Gary Barber, she went on to win the Woodbine Oaks, Queen's Plate, Wonder Where, and Autumn Miss Stakes (G3), before shipping out to California where she finished second to eventual U.S. Horse of the Year California Chrome in the Hollywood Derby (G1). Trainer Mark Casse said that the Hollywood Derby was his proudest moment of 2014, seeing his filly be competitive against the Kentucky Derby winner. Mark Casse was named Outstanding Trainer while Lexie Lou's regular rider Patrick Husbands was named Outstanding Jockey.

Mark Casse made several trips on stage to accept awards as two of his employers were not present. Along with representing Gary Barber to accept Lexie Lou's three awards, Casse represented John Oxley who was named Outstanding Owner. Oxley led the Woodbine owners' standing with 30 wins in 151 starts and earnings of over $1.5 million. His stable included Dominion Day (G3) winner Sky Captain, Hendrie (G3) winner Spring in the Air, as well as Northern Passion, Wild Catomine, and Dixie Twist.

Ernie Semersky of Conquest Stables accepts the award for Champion 2-Year-Old Filly from Stacie Roberts, Executive Director of the Jockey Club of Canada
Chicago-based Conquest Stables swept the juvenile awards, with Conquest Typhoon taking home Champion Two-Year-Old Male honors, and Conquest Harlanate named Champion Two-Year-Old Filly. Conquest Typhoon won the Summer Stakes (G2) at Woodbine and the Cecil B. DeMille (G3) at Del Mar, while Conquest Harlanate won the Natalma (G2) on the turf and the Mazarine (G3) on the Polytrack, both at Woodbine. Both juveniles are trained by Mark Casse.

Champion Older Male went to Lukes Alley, bred and owned by Eugene Melnyk and trained by Josie Carroll. The 4-year-old son of Flower Alley was 3 for 4 in 2014 including wins in the Durham Cup (G3) and the Autumn Stakes (G2). In the Older Female category, John Unger homebred Strut the Course took top honors, winning the Classy N' Smart and the Maple Leaf Stakes (G3). Hillaby, who was second in Older Female voting, was a clear winner in the Female Sprinter category. Mark Casse accepted the award for his Bessarabian Stakes (G2) winner, as owner Stonestreet Stable did not attend.

Sheena Ryan won for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey
Woodbine rider Sheena Ryan won the Outstanding Apprentice Jockey award in her second year as a nominee. She won 37 of 320 mounts before losing her apprentice allowance, with purse earnings over $1.2 million. The Saskatchewan native studied to be an accountant but followed her love of horses and a dream to be a rider by joining Alberta’s Olds College jockey program in 2008. Despite being seriously injured and missing most of 2012, Ryan came back and surged into the top 15 Woodbine jockeys in 2014.

Patrick Husbands accepts the Outstanding Jockey award from retired jockey Sandy Hawley
Patrick Husbands won his 8th Sovereign Award as outstanding jockey. The Brampton resident, originally from Barbados, won 170 races from 676 mounts including 21 stakes races. His mounts collected over $10.6 million in earnings, the second-highest total of Husbands’ Canadian career which began in 1998. The crowning moment of Husbands’ 2014 campaign came when he guided the filly Lexie Lou to win the Queen’s Plate. It was the first Plate win for trainer Mark Casse, a longtime friend and client for Husbands.  Other big- name horses ridden by Husbands in 2014 included Kaigun, Hillaby and Sky Captain.

Sam-Som Farm is a perennial winner on Sovereign Awards night and this year was no exception, as they took home two awards. 2004 champion 3-year-old filly Eye of the Sphynx was named outstanding broodmare, having produced Queen's Plate winner Eye of the Leopard and multiple stakes winners Hotep and Deceptive Vision. The Milton, Ontario farm was also named Outstanding Breeder, the 8th time so honored. Horses bred by Sam-Son earned over $3.1 million in 2014 including 38 winners of 62 races.

Cindy Pierson Dulay (center) accepts the Outstanding Photograph award from Dianne Denby (left) and Jennifer Anstey (right) of Canadian Thoroughbred

In the media categories, Scott Jagow of the Paulick Report won Outstanding Audio/Visual and Broadcast for his Woodbine Diaries, David Briggs of won Outstanding Writing for "Ontario's Cautionary Tale", and in the first award gived out on Friday night, Horse-Races.Net's Cindy Pierson Dulay picked up the Outstanding Photograph award for the photo of Big Bazinga rearing up at Turfway Park, which appeared both on this site as well as at Jennifer Morrison's Thoroughblog. This was the first time in recent memory that the media Sovereign awards all went to first time winners.

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. The judging for the 2014 media categories was performed by the Journalism Professors at Humber College, School of Media Studies & Information Technology, in Toronto, Ontario.

Lexie Lou was Champion 3-year-old
Female, Champion Turf Female,
and Horse of the Year

Conquest Harlanate was Champion 2-Year-Old Filly

Conquest Typhoon was Champion 2-Year-Old Male

Dynamic Sky was Champion Turf Male

Calgary Cat was Champion Male Sprinter

Eye of the Sphynx (shown here in 2004) was Outstanding Broodmare

Mark Casse (center) was Outstanding Trainer

John Oxley (left) was Outstanding Owner

Horse of the Year: Lexie Lou (156) Calgary Cat (30) Deceptive Vision (21) Champion Two Year Old Filly: Conquest Harlanate (164) Brooklyns Way (72) London Tower (21) Mississippi Delta (11) Champion Two Year Old Male: Conquest Typhoon (138) Conquest Tsunami (84) Decision Day (24) Phil's Cocktail (13) Champion Three Year Old Filly: Lexie Lou (157) Executive Allure (35) Paladin Bay (25) Sweater Weather (25) Champion Three Year Old Male: Heart to Heart (108) Ami's Holiday (93) Coltimus Prime (65) Florida Won (12) Champion Older Female: Strut the Course (141) Hillaby (92) Spring in the Air (14) Silent Star (10) Champion Older Male: Lukes Alley (115) Calgary Cat (77) Sky Captain (31) Sharp Sensation (21) Champion Turf Female: Lexie Lou (122) Deceptive Vision ( 107) Executive Allure (15) Royal Fury (11) Champion Turf Male: Dynamic Sky (139) Heart to Heart (65) Sharp Sensation (24) Excaper (22) Champion Female Sprinter: Hillaby (145) Executive Allure (75) Spring in the Air (31) Cactus Kris (14) Champion Male Sprinter: Calgary Cat (153) Sharp Sensation (54) Phil's Dream (25) Excaper (20) Outstanding Broodmare: Eye of the Sphynx (107) Star Guest (48) Cruising Kris (36) Uproar (35) Outstanding Breeder: Sam-Son Farm (93) Adena Springs (74) Paradox Farm Inc (64) William Sorokolit (12) Outstanding Owner: John C. Oxley (93) Gary Barber (61) Sam-Son Farm (51) Conquest Stables, LLC (50) Outstanding Trainer: Mark Casse (151) Brian Lynch (33) Josie Carroll (27) Greg Tracy (26) Outstanding Apprentice Jockey: Sheena Ryan (146) Damario Bynoe (56) Erika Smilovsky (48) Nick Webb (16) Outstanding Jockey: Patrick Husbands (145) Luis Contreras (48) Eurico Da Silva (42) Rico Walcott (24)

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