The very best in Canadian harness racing will be recognized Saturday night in Mississauga, Ont., including a huge honour for one Islander’s contribution to the industry.
Island native William Andrew will be presented with the Cam Fella award for extreme effort and dedication to Canadian harness racing at the black-tie gala. Andrew now lives in Calgary, where he serves as chairman and chief executive officer of Long Run Exploration and is also a large standardbred owner with horses racing with a variety of trainers in Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. during the 2015 season. Andrew runs one of the largest breeding operations in the nation with his Meridian Farms locations in High River, Alta., and Milton. Meridian Farms is also a finalist for the Armstrong breeder of the year award at Saturday’s banquet.
The Cam Fella award is a fitting tribute for Andrew, as the horse owner is always giving back to the community with him regularly racing horses in support of charity in Alberta, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia with all of their earnings going towards a different charity each month. Some of the charities that have benefitted from Andrew’s generosity in 2015 include 4-H, the Autism Society, Bible Hill Kinsmen, Big Brothers - Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club of Truro and Colchester, CBC Turkey Drive, Charlottetown Boys & Girls Club, Harness the Cure and Maggie’s Place.
Andrew also sponsors stakes events with Meridian Farms providing significant funding to the Atlantic Sires Stakes trot events, as well as sponsoring the Blair Andrew Memorial Stake. He is also a fervent supporter of the P.E.I. Matinee Racetrack Program.
Andrew will be the 11th winner of the Cam Fella award since its inception in 1997 and will join recipients such as former P.E.I. treasurer Mitch Murphy, former Ontario premier Michael Harris and champion racehorse Somebeachsomewhere. Sixteen participants vote on the Cam Fella award every year with a nominee required to receive 75 per cent of the votes to receive earn the award. There has been no recipient for the Cam Fella award since 2010.
Saturday’s O’Brien Awards have a number of Island nominees, including Souris-owned State Treasurer nominated for older pacing horse, Summerside native Dr. Ian Moore nominated for the horsemanship award and Charlottetown’s Frances Lund up for a media excellence award.
The Atlantic three-year-old crop of 2015 has dispersed across North America with a number of them scoring victories. Wynnfrith has been hot since relocating stateside as the four-year-old daughter of Ameripan Gigolo has three wins from four 2016 starts at Dover Downs in Delaware. Bred by Mike Slana of Belfast and campaigned by Buntainwood Farm on P.E.I., Wynnfrith has recorded wins in 1:58.1, 1:56.3 and 1:57.2 as she climbs the Dover Downs class ladder, with her latest victory coming Tuesday evening.
Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at email@example.com.