The Sovereign Awards
Owner Lawrence Cordes and trainer Josie Carroll holding Mighty Heart's Horse of the Year blanket
The 47th annual Sovereign Awards, saluting outstanding achievement in Canadian Thoroughbred racing and breeding in 2021, were handed out at a ceremony on Thursday evening at Universal EventSpace in Vaughan, Ontario, north of Woodbine Racetrack. 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 and Jason Portuondo serving as master of ceremonies. Thankfully, speeches about politics or industry issues were mostly avoided, with a mostly positive tone to the festivities and optimism for the upcoming Canadian racing season, given that the last 2 Sovereign Awards ceremonies were cancelled and replaced with livestream "reveals" of the winners, and that the 2022 season will start on time (this Saturday) and without masks and restricted attendance.
Mighty Heart, the one-eyed 2020 Queen's Plate winner and 2020 Horse of the Year who continued his winning ways in 2021, easily won the Older Male Main Track award by a margin of 108-60 over Pink Lloyd, and then closed out the evening by taking Horse of the Year honours again by a 63-55 margin, also over Pink Lloyd. Owner-breeder Lawrence Cordes spoke proudly of shipping Mighty Heart to Churchill Downs for the Blame Stakes, where he pulled off an upset, ignored by the bettors and sent off at 13-1. Back home at Woodbine he won the Dominion Day (G3) and the Autumn Stakes (G3) to cap off a second championship season with a record of 3 wins, 2 seconds, and 2 thirds in 8 starts, earning $377,361. Cordes said Mighty Heart will race this year.
Lawrence Cordes accepts the Champion Older Main Track Male award for Mighty Heart from Colleen Dalos of the Jockey Club of Canada
Ivan Dalos was given the E.P. Taylor Award of Merit, a lifetime achievement award. The native of Hungary came to Canada in the 1950's and, after being introduced to the sport of racing by a co-worker, eventually got into owning and breeding as Tall Oaks Farm. In 1998, Victory Gallop, the first foal of his broodmare Victorious Lil, upset Real Quiet in the Belmont Stakes to spoil a Triple Crown. An hour after he accepted the Award of Merit, his homebred Avie's Empire was named Outstanding Broodmare, nosing out Include Katherine by just one vote. Avie's Empire, a daughter of Grade 1 winner Fly For Avie, never raced but went on to produce Avie's Flatter (second in the voting in both Male Sprinter and Male Turf Horse categories), Avie's Mineshaft, and Avie's Mesa. As of the end of 2021 she had 3 starters, 3 winners, 1 champion, and total progeny earnings of $1,430,306.
Ivan Dalos receiving the E.P. Taylor Award of Merit from Glenn Sikura, Chief Steward of the Jockey Club of Canada
Pink Lloyd's connections accept the trophy for Champion Male Sprinter from Robert Landry of the Jockey Club of Canada
Pink Lloyd was sent to LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement at the end of 2021, and despite losing two awards (Older Male and Horse of the Year) to Mighty Heart, did take the Champion Male Sprinter award an unprecedented fifth year in a row, with 117 votes over Avie's Flatter's 57. At the age of 9 he won his last three career starts: the Bold Venture (G3), Ontario Jockey Club Stakes, and Kennedy Road (G2), after finishing second twice to start the season. Trainer Bob Tiller spoke at length about what Pink Lloyd means to him and the industry. He is the only horse to win a Sovereign Award 5 years in a row from ages 5 to 9, and Tiller said they could have run again but he has earned his retirement. He left the track with a lifetime record of 29 wins, 3 seconds, and 2 thirds in 38 starts, earning $1,885,584.
Perennial winner Mark Casse cleaned up yet again, with assistant trainer Kathryn Sullivan accepting the trophies on his behalf. Along with his record fourteenth Outstanding Trainer award, he also represented the Champion Older Female, Skygaze, Two-Year-Old Filly Mrs. Barbara, Two-Year-Old Male God of Love, Three-Year-Old Frosted Over, and Older Female Skygaze. In addition, Charlotte Weber's Live Oak Plantation, who Casse trains for, was named Outstanding Owner.
Assistant trainer Kathryn Sullivan accepts Mark Casse's 14th Outstanding Trainer Award, making it 11 consecutive, from Ontario HBPA Secretary Treasurer Sherry McLean.
The Outstanding Breeder award went to Sam-Son Farm, but noted as a bittersweet one by Lisa Balaz, daughter of the late Tammy Samuel-Balaz who accepted the award. The family operation started by Ernie Samuel is winding down operations, so their red and gold silks won't be seen much longer, but their legacy will continue for some time, including in the upcoming Triple Crown with Messier, who will attempt to be just the third Canadian-bred to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) after Northern Dancer (1964) and Sunny's Halo (1983).
Lisa Balaz accepts the Outstanding Breeder award from Frank Di Giulio of the Jockey Club of Canada
Kazushi Kimura, the Outstanding Apprentice of 2018 and 2019, moved up to take the big prize, named the Outstanding Jockey for 2021 with 116 votes over Rafael Hernandez' 58. In 722 starts the Japan native had a whopping 140 wins, taking the Woodbine riding title in just his fourth season. His rides earned over $5 million, with 8 stakes wins including the Ontario Derby (G3) and Hendrie Stakes (G3). Mauricio Malvaez repeated as Outstanding Apprentice, beating out Michael David 136-59. Malvaez, from Edmonton, won 28 out of 252 starts earning $470,225 including the Canadian Juvenile Stakes at Century Mile.
Kazushi Kimura (left) accepts his Outstanding Jockey award from Daren Gomez of the Jockeys' Benefit Association of Canada.
Amalfi Coast finally broke through on awards night, taking the Champion Female Sprinter award by a 116-60 margin over Our Secret Agent. The Kevin Attard trainee won 2 graded stakes in 5 starts, the Ontario Fashion (G3) and Royal North (G2), earning $246,763 on the year. However, she didn't sweep both her nominations, as in the Turf Female category, California invader and Brazilian-bred Jolie Olimpica won by a 92-56 score. The Josie Carroll trainee had just 1 win in 5 starts, the Nassau Stakes (G2).
Owners Brandon and Terrance Greer accept the Male Turf Horse trophy for Town Cruise from Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment.
Town Cruise took the Male Turf Horse award by a 127-62 margin over Avie's Flatter. The Brandon and Terrance Greer homebred stepped up into stakes company, finishing second in the King Edward Stakes (G2) before pulling off the upset in the Woodbine Mile (G1). However, opting not to use their "Win and You're In" berth for the Breeders' Cup Mile at Del Mar, they instead stayed home where he finished fifth in the Nearctic Stakes (G1) in a cutback in distance. He ended the season with 3 wins, in 5 starts, earning $704,953.
Mr. Will Wong (left) accepts his Outstanding Photograph award from Woodbine TV personality Jeff Bratt.
In the media categories, Will Wong's "Welcome Back" was named Outstanding Photograph, giving him his second award, Hayley Morrison took the Outstanding Writing award for the second year in a row for "New Races, New Faces: How I Fell For The Fort", and Woodbine Entertainment Group's broadcast of the 162nd Queen's Plate took the Outstanding Broadcast award. In addition, longtime Mike Doyle staffer Denzil Fonseca was named Outstanding Groom.
Vote totals for the top three finalists for all the awards along with photos for all of the equine winners are below. 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 2021 media categories was performed by media professionals in the Thoroughbred Racing industry, a change from past years when they were judged by professors at nearby Humber College.
For more information:
Mighty Heart was Champion Older Male
& Horse of the Year
God of Love was
Champion 2-Year-Old Male
Munnyfor Ro was
Champion 3-Year-Old Female
Frosted Over was
Champion 3-Year-Old Male
Champion Older Female
Horse of the Year: Mighty Heart
Finalists: Mighty Heart (63), Pink Lloyd (55), Town Cruise (34)
Champion Two-Year-Old Female: Mrs. Barbara
Finalists: Mrs. Barbara (112), Diabolic (49), Moira (59)
Champion Two-Year-Old Male: God of Love
Finalists: God of Love (113), Grafton Street (54), Ironstone(40)
Champion Three-Year-Old Female: Munnyfor Ro
Finalists: Munnyfor Ro (118), Our Flash Drive (69), Lorena (27)
Champion Three-Year-Old Male: Frosted Over
Finalists: Frosted Over (123), Uncharacteristic (35),
Artie’s Storm (35), Haddassah (18)
Champion Older Main Track Female: Skygaze
Finalists: Skygaze (106), Amalfi Coast (73), Infinite Patience (29)
Champion Older Main Track Male: Mighty Heart
Finalists: Mighty Heart (108), Pink Lloyd (60), Sir Winston (40)
Champion Female Turf Horse: Jolie Olimpica
Finalists: Jolie Olimpica (92), Amalfi Coast (56),
Our Flash Drive (50)
Champion Male Turf Horse: Town Cruise
Finalists: Town Cruise (127), Avie’s Flatter (62), Silent Poet (24)
Champion Female Sprinter: Amalfi Coast
Finalists: Amalfi Coast (116), Our Secret Agent (60), Lorena (22)
Champion Male Sprinter: Pink Lloyd
Finalists: Pink Lloyd (117), Avie’s Flatter (57),
Souper Stonehenge (37)
Outstanding Broodmare: Avie's Empire
Finalists: Avie’s Empire (72), Include Katherine (71),
Sunday Affair (28)
Outstanding Breeder: Sam-Son Farm
Finalists: Sam-Son Farm (123), Adena Springs (35), Tall Oaks Farm (31)
Outstanding Owner: Live Oak Plantation
Finalists: Live Oak Plantation (100), Gary Barber (61),
Godolphin, LLC (35)
Outstanding Trainer: Mark E. Casse
Finalists: Mark E. Casse (123), Kevin Attard (67), Josie Carroll (30)
Outstanding Apprentice Jockey: Mauricio Malvaez
Finalists: Mauricio Malvaez (136), Michael David (59),
Edgar Zenteno (43)
Outstanding Jockey: Kazushi Kimura
Finalists: Kazushi Kimura (116), Rafael Manuel Hernandez (58),
Patrick Husbands (25), Justin Stein (25)
Jolie Olimpica was
Champion Turf Female
Town Cruise was
Champion Turf Male
Amalfi Coast was
Champion Female Sprinter
Pink Lloyd repeated as
Champion Male Sprinter
Denzil Fonseca was named
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