Saturday, January 30, 2010

Champs Elysees Crowned The Champ!

On Friday evening the thoroughbred industry gathered at Ultra Supper Club in downtown Toronto for the 35th annual Sovereign Awards honouring outstanding achievement in Canadian Thoroughbred racing and breeding for 2009.

Though the city was experiencing a deep freeze, all was cozy inside the comfy confines of Ultra. The event would prove to be an outstanding evening for Eugene Melnyk.

Outstanding Owner and Breeder Eugene Melnyk had quite a night

Our excellent host Jason Portuondo cruised the catwalk dividing the main room and entertained the guests in a crushed velvet blazer borrowed from Sandy Hawley in 1972. Or at least that's what Hawley suggested when he strode to the podium to declare young Omar Moreno Canada's Outstanding Apprentice Jockey.

Jack Lauzon, Omar Moreno and Sovereign Award winning apprentice Sandy Hawley...I think i have that right.

Moreno had an immediate impact on his arrival at Woodbine during the meet and even garnered a few votes last month in the Eclipse Award nominations.

Moments later, Hawley handed out the Sovereign Award for Outstanding Jockey to the brilliant Patrick Husbands. The Brampton resident became the first Canadian-based jockey to surpass the $10M mark in purse earnings [CORRECTION: As noted on Thoroughblog, Todd Kabel was the first Canadian jockey to $10M. Above stat was wrongly reported in the Sovereign Award nominee video] - - something that did not seem all that surprising after watching video after video during the night of Husbands cruising to victory aboard a variety of Sovereign Award nominees.

Patrick Husbands is the most photographed jockey in Canada

The wide open category of Champion Three-Year-Old Male was awarded to Queen's Plate winner Eye of the Leopard with 130 votes, just 30 votes better than his rival El Brujo.

The Samuel family smiling on behalf of Eye of the Leopard

There were a few surprises over the evening. Biofuel and Negligee made history when they dead heated with 135 votes each as Canada's Champion Two-Year-Old Filly.

The excellent Field Commission won a difficult Champion Sprinter category with 121 votes narrowly defeating El Brujo's 95 votes. The rapid Hollywood Hit earned 54 votes following a spectacular track-record setting campaign.

The trophies kept piling up

No one was surprised to see Roger Attfield named the Sovereign for Outstanding Trainer after a 2009 meet where the Queen's Plate collector captured 14 stakes races.


There was certainly some nostalgia to the proceedings as Juddmonte's Farm Manager Garrett O'Rourke was called to the stage twice to gather first a trophy honouring Champs Elysees as Champion Male Turf Horse and again at the end of the night when the Champ was named Canada's Horse of the Year.

Juddmonte had a fantastic season in Canada winning the Woodbine Mile and the Canadian International with Ventura and Champs Elysees - both horses trained by the late Bobby Frankel.

Frankel is the only trainer to win the G1 International, G1 Woodbine Mile (Ventura, Leroidesanimaux, Riviera), G1 E.P. Taylor Stakes (Commercante) and the Queen's Plate (Wild Desert).

O'Rourke was in great spirits offering, "I guess it's fitting that he would win Horse of the Year in a country other than France that can pronounce his name right! When I saw that trophy I wondered how I would ever get it through U.S. customs!"

Woodbine exec Nick Eaves and jovial Juddmonte rep Garrett O'Rourke

Eugene Melnyk enjoyed four walks to the podium on the evening. Melnyk was named both outstanding owner and breeder for 2009, and also took home awards for Pico Teneriffe as Outstanding Broodmare, and for Marchfield (by Pico Teneriffe) who was named Champion Older Male.

There was plenty of posing with St. Simon going on last night

On a personal note, I was not named the winner of Outstanding Newspaper Article but did have a chance to meet the now ten-time Sovereign Award winning Curtis Stock to offer my congratulations. Stock's excellent piece, "Lifetime of Horse Racing Brings Love, Happiness and Tragedy" is linked in Friday's post here at TripleDeadHeat and I encourage readers to take a peak.

Bruce Walker wrote the Outstanding Feature Story with "A Penny for Your Thoughts" and Michael Burns Sr. snapped the Outstanding Photograph award for "A Reflection of Talent"

The Sovereign Award program, which includes images of the nominated photographs and bios of the many brilliant stars of racing can be found on the Jockey Club of Canada homepage.

The full results and vote count are listed below.

This evening I will be making my way to the O'Brien Awards which honour the best of Canadian Standardbred racing. Photos and more from that event to be posted Sunday night.Live coverage of the event will be available on the Standardbred Canada website.

The Lovely Amy posing with some random guy

Horse of the Year
Champs Elysees 118
Milwaukee Appeal 50
Marchfield 40

Champion Two-Year-Old Filly
Biofuel 135
Negligee 135
Bay to Bay 34

Champion Two-Year-Old Colt
Hollinger 175
Bear Tough Guy 59
Ghost Fleet 33

Champion Three-Year-Old Filly
Milwaukee Appeal 182
Hooh Why 89
Tasty Temptation 38

Champion Three-Year-Old Male
Eye of the Leopard 130
El Brujo 100
Awesome Rhythm 72

Champion Older Female
Serenading 152
Smart Surprise 110
Ginger Brew 56

Champion Older Male
Marchfield 166
Ice Bear 59
Palladio 57

Champion Female Turf Horse
Points of Grace 186
Much Obliged 55
Lady Shakespeare 50

Champion Male Turf Horse
Champs Elysees 182
Rahy's Attorney 91
Marchfield 53

Champion Sprinter
Field Commission 121
El Brujo 95
Hollywood Hit 54

Champion Female Sprinter
Tribal Belle 179
Carem Crescent 65
Smart Surprise 54

Outstanding Broodmare
Pico Teneriffe 75
Rahy's Hope 37
Destroy 34

Outstanding Apprentice Jockey
Omar Moreno 175
Melanie Pinto 78
Tyrone Nelson 40

Outstanding Jockey
Patrick Husbands 185
Eurico Rosa da Silva 63
Chantal Sutherland 62

Outstanding Trainer
Roger Attfield 150
Mark Casse 73
Malcolm Pierce 55

Outstanding Owner in Canada
Melynk Racing Stables 164
Bear Stables 65
Juddmonte Farms 58

Outstanding Breeder
Eugene Melnyk 157
Adena Springs 100
Minshall Farms 15

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