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The permanent Sovereign Award trophy
The 45th annual Sovereign Awards, saluting outstanding achievement in Canadian Thoroughbred racing and breeding in 2019, were announced on a YouTube livestream on Tuesday, May 19. Originally the ceremony was to be held on April 16, two days before Woodbine's originally scheduled opening day, with the usual dinner and trophy presentations, but that was scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Woodbine will open its 2020 Thoroughbred season on Saturday June 6. 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 will receive a trophy which is a replica of English racing great St. Simon. Woodbine television personality and G98.7 sportscaster Jason Portuondo was in the TV studio alone as the host, opening each envelope to announce the winners, and conducting a few interviews by video conference. The official program can be downloaded here.
Canada's Horse of the Year for 2019 is Starship Jubilee, as well as the Champion Turf Female for the third year in a row. The Kevin Attard trainee was 3 for 7 earning $746,460, including wins in the E.P. Taylor Stakes (G1) and Canadian Stakes (G2) at Woodbine and the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf at Gulfstream Park. Adam Corndorf, vice-president of owner Blue Heaven Farm, celebrating its first Horse of the Year, said, "It's an incredible feeling. I have to give all the credit to two people, our trainer Kevin Attard, he's a great trainer, a great friend, he's done wonders with this filly. Also my mom Bonnie Baskin who gave us the confidence to buy this mare and give this a go, and she gave us an incredible ride, one in a million. The plan was to buy her as a broodmare prospect but Kevin saw she had plenty left in the tank and really thought the best was yet to come. We had an unbelievable year that brought so much joy to my family, 5 generations, including my daughter and my grand-daughter. These will be memories that will last the rest of our lives. This year our goal is the Breeders' Cup. We'll take a shot against anyone."
Sam-Son Farm brought home the most hardware on Tuesday night. Along with being named Outstanding Owner and Outstanding Breeder, El Tormenta (a 5th generation Sam-Son homebred) was named Champion Turf Male off his win in the Woodbine Mile (G1), and fellow homebred Desert Ride is Champion Three-Year-Old Female off wins in the Woodbine Oaks and Wonder Where Stakes. El Tormenta's regular rider Eurico Rosa da Silva, who announced his retirement from the saddle at the end of 2019, won his 7th Outstanding Jockey award off his 19 stakes wins, and is the only rider to win the award 5 years in a row, Portuondo noting that the jockey colony is relieved that he won't be back to try for 6. As expected Kazushi Kimura repeated as Outstanding Apprentice Jockey, having already won the 2019 Eclipse Award in the same category back in January.
2017 Horse of the year Pink Lloyd three-peated as Champion Male Sprinter and also took home his 2nd Champion Older Male award. The Bob Tiller trainee was a perfect 6-for-6 (he was declared a non-starter in his only "loss"), including the Kennedy Road (G2), Vigil (G3), and Jacques Cartier (G3), with Da Silva aboard for all his starts for the Entourage Stable. Summer Sunday was named Champion Female Sprinter off stakes wins in the Royal North (G2) and Hendrie (G3), which were both run on Sundays! Mark Casse, who will be inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs this summer, was named Outstanding Trainer for the 9th year in a row and 14th overall.
In the media categories, Michael Bye won Outstanding Photograph for the first time, for his photo "Cyclone Dan, winner of the 3rd race, J. Gomez up" taken at Hastings Park. Dave Briggs won his second Outstanding Writing award for "Royal Victory for the quintessential small guy" in Canadian Thoroughbred magazine, and Woodbine Entertainment won its 5th Outstanding Broadcast award for its Queen's Plate telecast.
Harvey Warner, president of the Manitoba Jockey Club, received the Special Sovereign Award for his contribution to Canadian racing, specifically the revival of Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Warner said, "It's something I never imagined, but it certainly feels good for the recognition. It's been of a struggle over the years to get through economically. For the little racetrack that could, that's what we usually call Assiniboia Downs, but it's a credit to everybody here. We were first out of the box to convince government to fund racing through VLTs. We've always made it our model to put horsemen first and we continue to do that, putting those dollars towards the horsemen." Assiniboia Downs will be the first Thoroughbred track in Canada to run live racing in 2020, as other tracks including Woodbine remain closed due to COVID-19.
Owner-breeder Charles Fipke received the E.P. Taylor Award of Merit, to go along with the Order of Canada he received in 2018. His stakes-winning homebreds include Perfect Soul, Perfect Shirl, Not Bourbon, Forever Unbridled, and Seeking the Soul. Fipke said, "I just like to work away at things and sometimes they turn out. But if you work hard at it then you will be rewarded. It's a great honour to win this, as E.P. Taylor was a great idol, he bred Northern Dancer, the best stallion ever." Fipke said the highlights of his career so far are winning the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf with Perfect Shirl, and the Breeders' Cup Distaff with Forever Unbridled.
Below are the list of finalists with their vote totals:
Starship Jubilee repeated as Champion Turf Female
& was Horse of the Year
Horse of the Year: Starship Jubilee Finalists: Starship Jubilee (108), Pink Lloyd (105),
Eurico Rosa da Silva repeated as
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