An O’Brien Award finally got to call P.E.I. home recently after Marc Campbell won the horsemanship award at the awards gala in Mississauga, Ont.
Campbell edged out Kelly Hoerdt of Alberta for the honour, making him the first Islander to win an O’Brien Award. The 28-year-old Vernon River native will go down in O’Brien Award history as the youngest person to ever win the horsemanship award, as he joins the likes of previous winners Carl Jamieson, Rick Zeron, Bill Davis and Gilles Barrieau. The youngest person to receive an O’Brien Award is Casie Coleman, who won the trainer of the year award in 2005 at age 25. The horsemanship award was first awarded in 2004 to Bill Davis, making Campbell the 10th recipient of the award.
In the vote tally released by Standardbred Canada this week, Campbell received the support of 30 O’Brien voters, compared to 12 votes for Hoerdt and six for third-place finisher Darren Crowe of Nova Scotia.
Campbell’s trainee, Malabrigo, lost out on the three-year-old filly honours to millionaire stakes performer American Jewel by a vote margin of 41 to seven.
Angus Buntain, manager for Malabrigo’s owner Buntainwood Farm of Brackley Beach, said it was amazing to have the first Maritime-bred to make it as an O’Brien Award finalist.
“Never in our wildest dreams did we think that was going to happen,” Buntain said. “She really made an impact on Canadian racing. Not just (in the Maritimes) but everywhere people recognized that was she did was a very special achievement.”
American Jewel, her competition for the award, is owned by powerhouse racing and breeding operation Brittany Farms of Kentucky and trained by Jimmy Takter.
“To be up against a Jimmy Takter-trained horse was crazy. He trains champions, world champions. It was very humbling to be there among all those people with a horse and a trainer that were up for awards. It’s a victory for the little guys to be nominated against someone like Brittany Farms. I really think its great for Maritime racing to have the representation they had. We may never ever get back there again. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”
Buntain was not upset when American Jewel’s name was announced as the winner.
“I had already accepted the fact beforehand, and I think we all had. It was kind of awkward in some ways because we’re used to her always winning, but this was different.”
He is just happy to have finally made it to the O’Brien Awards but is surprised it was one of their Island-based horses that did it, not one of their Ontario horses.
“When you looked at her at the Truro yearling sale way back when you never would have said ‘you know, in her three-year-old year she is going to be a finalist for an O’Brien Award,’” Buntain laughed.
Live races were cancelled last Saturday at the Charlottetown Driving Park after a brutal week of low temperatures that made it unfit and impractical to get horses jogged through the week, let alone race. Live racing will return to the capital oval on April 30.
Across the continent
The Tattersalls Mixed sale was held last week at The Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., and there was some Island action.
North Wiltshire-born Island Lexus was sold to Delaware interest for $15,000. The Atlantic Sires Stakes graduate was campaigned by Danny Romo in the Maritimes.
Aled Hanover changed hands for $47,000. The six-year-old son of Western Hanover was owned by Nova Scotia’s Ron Hall and trained by Dale Sobey on P.E.I. after being bought at the same sale last January. Aled Hanover was being trained by Tony O’Sullivan leading up to the sale and is now owned by MG Racing Stables of New Jersey.
The lone Island buy of the day was Pang Shui for $8,000. He is now owned by Islanders William Andrew of Calgary, Gary Arsenault of Miscouche, Brian Andrew of Milton and Blake Andrew of Montreal. The six-year-old stallion son of No Pan Intended-Road To Pandalay was trained by Ray Schnittker for the duration of his career while earning $534,549 and taking a mark of 1:50.4 at The Meadows in Pennsylvania in winning his Adios elimination.
Other career triumphs include multiple Pennsylvania Sires Stakes wins, finishing second in the $300,000 Max Hempt final to Fred And Ginger by a neck in 1:49.4 while defeating One More Laugh, finishing third in the $500,000 Adios final in 1:49.2 while beating We Will See and finishing third in the $200,000 Battle Of Brandywine consolation besting Valentino and All Speed Hanover.
Sunday at Rideau Carleton Raceway, My Old Friend John was a winner in 1:57.4 for trainer Ron MacDonald, driver John MacDonald and owner Stephen Gass of Cornwall in a $6,500 claimer. He is entered to race again Sunday for the same price tag with John MacDonald in the bike.
Nicholas Oakes’ column appears in
The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at email@example.com.