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2011 O’Brien Award Finalists Announced

Wednesday, December 21, 2011  By: Standardbred Canada
: 0px; margin: 0px;">2011 O’Brien Award Finalists Announced

 Wednesday, December 21, Standardbred Canada announced the finalists for the 2011 O’Brien Awards, which honour Canada’s best in harness racing over the past season.

The awards are named in honour of the late Joe O’Brien, an outstanding horseman and a member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. The winners will be announced at the annual O’Brien Awards Banquet on Saturday, January 28, 2012.

2011 World Driving Champion Jody Jamieson, defending Driver of the Year Randy Waples and the country’s leading dash-winning driver, Scott Zeron, are the finalists for the Driver of the Year category.

Jamieson, 35, of Moffat, Ont., is looking to take home his third title as Canada’s driver of the year following an exceptional season. Jamieson has put together some of his best numbers in 2011. He leads all Canadian harness drivers with over $11.4-million in purse earnings. He made 461 trips to the winner’s circle, captured his second North America Cup and secured his second World Driving Championship title. Jamieson was the regular driver for O’Brien finalists Frenchfrysnvinegar, Monkey On My Wheel, Up The Credit and Warrawee Needy.

Waples, 46, of Milton, Ont., a three-time O’Brien winner as the country’s top reinsman, also had an outstanding year, driving 221 winners and horses to over $8.5 million in purse earnings. Waples is the regular driver for San Pail, the unanimous choice for Older Trotting Horse of the Year, along with O’Brien finalist China Pearls.

Zeron is a finalist in the Driver category for the second consecutive year. The 22-year-old resident of Oakville, Ont. tops the charts for Canadian drivers in dash wins with 536 victories to his credit. He’s bankrolled in excess of $8.1-million in purses, almost double his 2010 total. Zeron drove numerous stakes winners this season, including the Battle of Waterloo winner Machapelo.

The Trainer of the Year category has shaped up as a battle between two first time nominees, Jeff Gillis and Tony O’Sullivan.

Gillis, 34, of Hillsburgh, Ont., has enjoyed a productive year, conditioning 108 winners and training horses to over $3.8 million in purse money. His stable was led by the standout three-year-old pacing colt Mystician, a winner of $695,000 this season and Breeders Crown champion Frenchfrysnvinegar, who is a finalist for an O’Brien trophy in the Older Trotting Mare category.

O’Sullivan, 35, of Cambridge, Ont., also enjoyed an outstanding season, sending 120 winners postward and training horses that earned over $3.8 million. O’Sullivan, a native of New Zealand, started a record 11 horses in the Breeders Crown finals at Woodbine Racetrack on October 29. He managed to collect two seconds, a third and a fourth-place cheque. Some of his top performers include sophomore pacing colt Alsace Hanover, a winner of over $872,000, and pacing mare Maureen Rocks, a winner of over $164,000 that was the runner-up in her Breeders Crown final. O’Sullivan conditions 40 horses and is based at Classy Lane Training Centre in Puslinch, Ont.

Keith Clark, 58, of DeWinton, Alta., will attempt to secure his second O’Brien trophy in the O’Brien Award of Horsemanship category. Clark won the award in 2004, and is up against first-time nominee Marc Campbell, from Winsloe, PEI.

Clark, who was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2009, annually posts solid training and driving numbers. 2011 marks the sixth consecutive year he’s surpassed the $1-million mark in earnings as a trainer, while sending out 172 winners from his barn this year. On the driving side, he clicked for 164 wins and eclipsed the $1-million marker for the seventh straight season. Clark is the leading trainer at three racetracks this year --- Alberta Downs in Lacombe, Alta., Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alta., and Fraser Downs in Surrey, BC. His driving talents are equally as impressive as he is the leading driver at Alberta Downs and Northlands in 2011.

At just 27 years of age, Campbell has proven himself to be one of the top horsemen in the Maritimes. This year he’s the leading dash-winning driver at Red Shores Racetrack and Casino at Charlottetown Driving Park and Summerside. To date he’s driven 172 winners and horses to in excess of $354,000 in purse money. On the training side, he sits in second at the Charlottetown Driving Park and third at Summerside. Campbell, in his ninth season as a trainer, conditioned 56 winners and trained horses to over $177,000 in earnings.

Two fillies that exemplified consistency throughout their freshman campaigns are nominated in the two-year-old pacing filly division --- American Jewel and Economy Terror.

American Jewel won eight of nine races and over $669,000. Three of her wins were on Canadian soil, including a World Record 1:50.2 at Mohawk Racetrack when she won the Shes A Great Lady Stakes. Economy Terror notched eight wins and three seconds in 11 starts for $924,437 in purse earnings. The Western Terror filly closed her juvenile campaign with victories in her Breeders Crown final and the Three Diamonds.

Two outstanding colts will compete in the two-year-old pacing colt category --- A Rocknroll Dance and Warrawee Needy.

A Rocknroll Dance

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