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The Grey Simcoe Forresters Pipers bringing in the Master Trophy before the start of the ceremony

The Sovereign Awards

Date: 04/08/2016

The 41st annual Sovereign Awards, saluting outstanding achievement in Canadian Thoroughbred racing and breeding in 2015, were handed out at a ceremony on Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto. More than 270 guests were in attendance on the eve of the 2015 racing season which kicks off Saturday afternoon. 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, with Woodbine television personality Jason Portuondo serving as master of ceremonies. In contrast with past years' events, there was no negativity with respect to the viability of the sport, no talk of politics, and one government official (from Ontario Lottery and Gaming) even presented a trophy, maybe suggesting an end to the funding issues faced by racing in Ontario, an industry assumed to be finished just 4 years ago.

Jim Lawson, Chief Steward of the Jockey Club of Canada, presents the Horse of the Year award to Mike Ambler, co-owner of Catch a Glimpse

There was no surprise that Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) winner Catch a Glimpse would be named Champion Two-Year-Old Filly by a sizable margin, but she also won Champion Turf Female by the smallest margin (2 votes), and ran away with the big prize, Horse of the Year. Bred in Kentucky by Branch Equine LLC, she was purchased by the partnership of Gary Barber, Michael Ambler, and Windways Farm, and raced in the pink and black colors of Mr. Barber and trained by Mark Casse, she won an $80,000 allowance event before capturing the Natalma Stakes (G2), earning her automatic entry to the Breeders' Cup at Keeneland, where she did not disappoint. The daughter of City Zip out of Irish River mare Halo River won 3 of 4 starts and earned $717,688. The win was Casse's first in the Breeders' Cup,

Frank Stronach of Adena Springs, his wife Elfrida, and son Andy accept the Champion 3-year-old Male award for Shaman Ghost
Casse, who was not in attendance, won his 5th straight Outstanding Trainer award, off a season where his runners won 80 of 434 starts with $4.9 million in earnings. He was also represented by Riker, who was named Champion Two-Year-Old Male, winner of 4 out of 5 starts including the Grey Stakes (G2), earning $273,540. Frank Stronach's Adena Springs Farm was named Outstanding Breeder, to go along with homebred Queen's Plate winner Shaman Ghost taking home Three-Year-Old Male honours, however perennial favorite Sam-Son Farm was named Outstanding Owner.

In the sprinter categories, the Female award went to Miss Mischief, winner of the Bessarabian (G2) for owner Diane Manning and trainer Dale Capuano, while the Male award went to Kennedy Road (G2) and Bold Venture (G3) winner Stacked Deck, raced by owner-breeder Bruce Lunsford and trained by Barbara Minshall. Miss Mischief was also named Champion Older Female.

Owner Diane Manning accepts the award for Champion Older Female for Miss Mischief from broadcast personality Joe Tilly

Woodbine rider Erika Smilovsky won the Outstanding Apprentice Jockey award in her second year as a nominee. Riding almost exclusively at Woodbine, the former Quarter Horse rider logged 11 wins, 15 seconds, and 22 thirds in 161 starts earning $363,793, but her biggest win of the year came at Fort Erie in the Puss'n Boots Cup.

Eurico Rosa da Silva had his best season yet in 2015, leading all riders in Canada with 202 wins including 17 stakes victories, giving him the nod as Outstanding Jockey for the third time. He was the regular rider of Champion Older Female and Female Sprinter Miss Mischief, and rode this winter in Hong Kong on a temporary contract.

Erika Smilovsky (left) accepts the Outstanding Apprentice Jockey award from photographer Patricia Burns.
Academic shipped across the country, winning the Woodbine Oaks at Woodbine, the Canadian Derby (G3) at Northlands Park, and the BC Derby (G3) at Hastings Park, earning her Champion Three-Year-Old Filly honors. The daughter of Henny Hughes out of Awesome Again mare Awesome Lass was trained by Reade Baker and owned by the partnership of Bear Stables and Riversedge Racing Stables. An emotional Danny Dion (Bear Stables) talked about how difficult it is to find a champion, given how many years have passed since his last one, 2008 Horse of the Year and Champion Sprinter Fatal Bullet.

Eurico Rosa da Silva accepts the Outstanding Jockey award from retired jockey Sandy Hawley
In the media categories, Chris Young's "Early Morning Groom" in the Globe and Mail was the Outstanding Photograph, Curtis Stock's "A Love of Horses" was given the Outstanding Writing award, and "Talkin' Horses", which airs weekly on CTV, won Outstanding Audio/Visual and Broadcast honors for the 17th episode of their 2015 season.

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 2015 media categories was performed by the Journalism Professors at Humber College, School of Media Studies & Information Technology, in Toronto, Ontario.

Catch A Glimpse was Champion 2-year-old
Filly, Champion Turf Female,
and Horse of the Year

Riker was Champion 2-Year-Old Male

Shaman Ghost was Champion 3-Year-Old Male

Academic was Champion 3-Year-Old Filly

Are You Kidding Me was Champion Older Male

Interpol was Champion Turf Male

Stacked Deck was Champion Male Sprinter
Horse of the Year:
Catch a Glimpse (117)
Academic (50)
Shaman Ghost (39)
Interpol (13)

Champion Two Year Old Filly:
Catch a Glimpse (156)
Caren (64)
Gamble's Ghost (36)
Ami's Mesa (14)

Champion Two Year Old Male:
Riker (127)
Amis Gizmo (73)
Conquest Daddyo (60)
Shakhimat (14)

Champion Three Year Old Filly:
Academic (160)
Don't Leave Me (34)
London Tower (34)
Brooklynsway (27)

Champion Three Year Old Male:
Shaman Ghost (158)
Danish Dynaformer (62)
Lucky Lindy (44)
Breaking Lucky (10)

Champion Older Female:
Miss Mischief (132)
Cactus Kris (35)
Uchenna (Ire) (33)
Touching Promise (30)

Champion Older Male:
Are You Kidding Me (136)
Melmich (44)
Stacked Deck (33)
Golden Sabre (21)

Champion Turf Female:
Catch a Glimpse (115)
Strut the Course (113)
Button Down (GB) (36)
Habibi (NZ) (8) 

Champion Turf Male:
Interpol (129)
Are You Kidding Me (49)
Reporting Star (39)
Danish Dynaformer (29)

Champion Female Sprinter:
Miss Mischief (86)
Cactus Kris (65)
Caren (58)
Skylander Girl (17)

Champion Male Sprinter:
Stacked Deck (144)
Calgary Cat (55)
Tower of Texas (36)
Bye Bye Bernie (18)

Outstanding Broodmare:
Rare Opportunity (48)
Awesome Lass (40)
Star Guest (29)
Uproar (25)

Outstanding Breeder:
Adena Springs (121)
Sam-Son Farm (64)
Tall Oaks Farm (33)
Eugene Melnyk (25)

Outstanding Owner:
Sam-Son Farm (111)
Conquest Stables, LLC (68)
Ivan Dalos (45)
Riversedge Racing Stables Ltd. (22)

Outstanding Trainer:
Mark Casse (154)
Roger Attfield (59)
Josie Carroll (18)
Kevin Attard (18)

Outstanding Apprentice Jockey:
Erika Smilovsky (127)
Fanny Crausaz (48)
Isabelle Wenc (30)
Kayla Pizarro (28)

Outstanding Jockey:
Eurico Rosa da Silva (141)
Luis Contreras (72)
Rico Walcott (24)
Patrick Husbands (20)
For more information:

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