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The Sovereign Awards

The Sovereign Award Master Trophy, with the names of every Horse of the Year around its base
Date: 04/18/2024

The 49th annual Sovereign Awards, saluting outstanding achievement in Canadian Thoroughbred racing and breeding in 2023, were handed out at a ceremony on Thursday evening at Paramount EventSpace in Woodbridge, Ontario, northeast 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 personalities Jeff Bratt and Dawn Lupul serving as co-hosts. As has been the case for several years, speeches about politics or industry issues were avoided, keeping a mostly positive tone to the festivities and optimism for the upcoming Canadian racing season, which at Woodbine begins on Saturday April 27.

Lincoln Collins, bloodstock agent for owner Tracy Farmer, accepts the Horse of the Year trophy for Fev Rover from Glenn Sikura, chief steward of the Jockey Club of Canada
Fev Rover defeated last year's Horse of the Year Moira by a 148-95 margin for Champion Female Turf Horse, and then closed out the night capturing Horse of the Year honours with 90 votes over Champion Three-Year-Old Male Paramount Prince's 44 votes and Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Elysian Field's 32. Her championship campaign included wins in the E.P. Taylor (G1) and Nassau (G2) at Woodbine and the Beverly D (G1) at Colonial Downs, earning $787,320 on the track for trainer Mark Casse. Accepting the award on her behalf was Lincoln Collins, bloodstock agent for owner Tracy Farmer. Collins said, "When Tracy (Farmer) was looking at buying Fev Rover from the Tattersalls Sales in Newmarket he said to me 'How good could she be?' and I said, 'Maybe she could win a Grade 1 in the U.S.' Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought she could be a Horse of the Year. She comes from a very tough ordinary family. She's named, believe it or not, after a Rugby League team in a small town in northern England. She's a scrapper, she's a fighter, she's not easy to train. Under sedation, on her first day back at the farm in Kentucky when she was turned out she jumped a fence and tried to kill herself! Team Casse has done a marvelous job with her and we are looking forward to racing her this year."

Robert "Red" McKenzie receiving the Special Sovereign Award from Keith Johns of the Jockey Club of Canada
Kicking off the evening's festivities, Alberta-based trainer Robert "Red" McKenzie was given the Special Sovereign Award recognizing his over 80 years in horse racing. The former jockey and then successful trainer has won over 1,600 races, and on June 23, 2023 at the age of 96, became the oldest trainer in Canadian history to saddle a winner, when Entitled Star won a claiming race at Century Downs. Entitled Star was claimed at Turf Paradise in 2018 for just $8000 and under McKenzie's care has won 7 races.

Assistant traainer Kathryn Sullivan accepts the Outstanding Trainer award for Mark Casse from Doug Anderson, Chairman of the Sovereign Awards Committee.

Along with Fev Rover, trainer Mark Casse, who won the Outstanding Trainer award for record 12th consecutive yea, was well represented among the winners. Unfortunately he was not in attendance as he is at the Ocala Breeders Sales' Company's Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training, so assistant trainer Kathryn Sullivan accepted most awards on his or their owners' behalf. Casse led all trainers with 113 wins in 556 starts, 24 stakes wins, and purse earnings over $7.8 million. Already in the Halls of Fame in the U.S. and Canada, his 24 stakes wins were spread among 21 different horses. These include Champion Male Turf Horse Lucky Score, winner of the Highlander (G2), Champion Three-Year-Old Male Paramount Prince, winner of the King's Plate, Champion Three-Year-Old Filly Elysian Field, winner of the Woodbine Oaks and second in the Plate, Champion Two-Year-Old Male My Boy Prince, third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), and Champion Two-Year-Old Female Witwatersrand, winner of the Mazarine (G3). Gary Barber, owner (either alone or in partnership) of Witwatersrand, My Boy Prince, Elysian Field, Paramount Prince, and Lucky Score, was named Outstanding Owner, with his 22 wins in 96 starts in Canada, 6 stakes wins, and earnings of almost $1.9 million.

Jim Clark, President of Colio Estate Wines, presents Champion Older Main Track Female to the connections of Millie Girl.
The older main track divisions did not go to Casse however. Tyson was named Champion Older Main Track Male off his wins in the Seagram Cup (G2) and Dominion Day (G3) and finished third in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) for owner-breeder Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings and Stretch Run Ventures. The Josie Carroll trainee just edged second place vote-getter Wolfie's Dynaghost by a 113-100 margin. Millie Girl was named Champion Older Main Track Female off wins in the Maple Leaf (G3) and Ontario Matron (G3) for trainer Catherine Day-Phillips and owner Kingfield Racing Stable.

Frank Stronach accepts the Outstanding Breeder award from Meghan MacKenzie Bell, AVP Sales & Business Development, Henry Equestrian & Agri-Business.
The Outstanding Breeder award went to Frank Stronach's Adena Springs Farm, and after the recent passing of wife Elfriede, Frank Stronach accepted the award alone, unlike last year when she joined him on stage. Adena-bred stakes winners in 2023 included Moira, runner-up for Champion Turf Female off her third place finish in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1), and Shaman's Girl, winner of the Shady Well Stakes in her debut. Malibu Mambo finished third in the Canadian International (G1). Adena-breds won 27 of 221 starts in Canada earning $1.9 million.

Mendocino Beano was named Outstanding Broodmare, a lifetime achievement award. She was bred and raced by Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry, winning the Ontario Colleen (G2). But it was in the breeding shed where she really left her mark. Her 5 foals are all winners, earning over $1.2 million. Her highest earner is Tone Broke, who captured two-thirds of the 2019 Canadian Triple Crown and finished third in that year's Queen's Plate on his way to amassing over $500,000 in earnings. She also produced stakes winner Stallion Heiress and stakes-placed Conquest Fleetfeet.

Owner Frank Di Giulio Jr. and trainer Robert Tiller accept the Champion Sprinter award from Frank Romeo, Steward of the Jockey Club of Canada.

Patches O'Houlihan was named Champion Male Sprinter off wins in the Bold Venture (G3), Vigil (G3), Lake Huron, and Lake Superior Stakes, following in the footsteps of his famous stablemate and fan favorite Pink Lloyd for owner-breeder Frank Di Giulio Jr. and trainer Bob Tiller. He was also the runner-up in the Champion Three-Year-Old Male division. Loyalty was named Champion Female Sprinter for trainer Josie Carroll and owners Gainesway Stable and LNJ Foxwoods, off wins in the Bessarabian (G2) and Hendrie (G3).

Jennifer Morrison accepts the Outstanding Writing award from Jennifer Anstey, CEO of Canadian Thoroughred Horse Media Group.
In the media categories, Jason Halstead won his first Sovereign Award for Outstanding Photograph for "A Kiss for Commando" from The Inside Track. Woodbine Entertainment Group took Outstanding Broadcast honours for "Secretariat: The Last Race" which aired on TSN, and Jennifer Morrison's "Cat's Long Way Home" from Canadian Thoroughbred took the Outstanding Writing award. Michelle Armata, daughter of long time trainer Joe Attard, wife of trainer Ross Armata, Jr. and currently working for her brother-in-law, trainer Mike DePaulo, was named Outstanding Groom. Jennifer Buck of Highfield Stock Farm in Alberta is the inaugural winner of the Outstanding Off-Track Worker award.

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 2023 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.

Fev Rover was Champion Turf Female
& Horse of the Year

Patches O'Houlihan was
Champion Male Sprinter

Lucky Score was
Champion Turf Male

Millie Girl was
Champion Older Main Track Female

My Boy Prince was
Champion 2-Year-Old Male

Tyson was
Champion Main Track Older Male

  Horse of the Year: Fev Rover

Finalists: Fev Rover (90), Paramount Prince (44), Elysian Field (32)

Champion Two-Year-Old Female: Witwatersrand

Finalists: Witwatersrand (132), Tripolina (41), Living Magic (32)

Champion Two-Year-Old Male: My Boy Prince

Finalists: My Boy Prince (156), Babbo (59), Two Ghosts (39)

Champion Three-Year-Old Female: Elysian Field

Finalists: Elysian Field (149), Solo Album (60), Fashionably Fab (45)

Champion Three-Year-Old Male: Paramount Prince

Finalists: Paramount Prince (144), Patches O'Houlihan (70), Touch'n Ride (47)

Champion Older Main Track Female: Millie Girl

Finalists: Millie Girl (152), Infinite Patience (60), Il Malocchio (39)

Champion Older Main Track Male: Tyson

Finalists: Tyson (113), Wolfie's Dynaghost (100), Treason (29)

Champion Female Turf Horse: Fev Rover

Finalists: Fev Rover (148), Moira (95), Our Flash Drive (17)

Champion Male Turf Horse: Lucky Score

Finalists: Lucky Score (96), My Boy Prince (88), Palazzi (30)

Champion Female Sprinter: Loyalty

Finalists: Loyalty (160), Our Flash Drive (61), Fashionably Fab (39)

Champion Male Sprinter: Patches O'Houlihan

Finalists: Patches O'Houlihan (137), Lucky Score (61), Dream Shake (31)

Outstanding Broodmare: Mendocino Beano

Finalists: Mendocino Beano (74), Sunday Affair (54), Game (31)

Outstanding Breeder: Adena Springs

Finalists: Adena Springs (85), Anderson Farms Ont. (68), Chiefswood Stables (32), Sean Fitzhenry (32), Sam-Son Farm (32)

Outstanding Owner: Gary Barber

Finalists: Gary Barber (126), Bruno Schickedanz (71), Chiefswood Stables (27)

Outstanding Trainer: Mark E. Casse

Finalists: Mark Casse (160), Kevin Attard (80), Martin Drexler (21)

Outstanding Apprentice Jockey: Sofia Vives

Finalists: Sofia Vives (162), Fraser Aebly (83), Amanda Vandermeersch (35)

Outstanding Jockey: Kazushi Kimura

Finalists: Kazushi Kimura (162), Sahin Civaci (75), Rafael Manuel Hernandez (28)


Paramount Prince was
Champion 3-Year-Old Female

Elysian Field was
Champion 3-Year-Old Male

Sofia Vives won
Outstanding Apprentice Jockey

Kazushi Kimura won
Outstanding Jockey

Michelle Armata was named
Outstanding Groom

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