DOWN THE BACKSTRETCH: Island shines nationally

Nicholas Oakes
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State Treasurer is owned by Sally MacDonald of Souris and Paul MacDonald of Toronto and is a stable star of Summerside native Dr. Ian Moore.

State Treasurer, Dr. Ian Moore, Frances Lund, William Andrew receive O'Brien Awards

The Garden of the Gulf was well represented Saturday night at the O’Brien Awards in Mississauga, Ont., honouring the best in Canadian harness racing.

Hometown favourite State Treasurer made Island racing history as the first P.E.I.-owned horse to be voted horse of the year in national harness racing. The winner of $1.9 million and 30 races lifetime is owned by Sally MacDonald of Souris and Island native Paul MacDonald, now of Toronto.

The millionaire pacer was purchased for the paltry sum of $6,500 as a yearling in Pennsylvania, then handed to trainer Kenny Arsenault, who gave the son of Real Desire his early lessons over Red Shores at the Charlottetown Driving Park. Summerside native Dr. Ian Moore now handes the training duties.

State Treasurer received 15 of the 45 national votes, with outstanding two-year-old Ontario filly LA Delight coming in second with 12 votes. State Treasuer, now seven-years-old, also captured the older pacing horse award by a 89-15 margin over All Bets Off and is currently enjoying his winter break in Sorento, Fla.

In the 27 years the O’Brien Awards have been held, the only other horse of the year with Island connections was 1989 winner Matts Scooter, trained by Charlottetown native Harry Poulton.

Moore received some accolades of his own, winning the horsemanship award. The 62-year-old conditioner had a career season in 2015, with $2.1 million banked by his stable while winning 62 races out of 199 starts, giving him an impressive average of $10,809 in purse earnings every time he sent out a starter.

Twelve past horsemanship-award winners join Moore, with Winsloe resident Marc Campbell (2012) as the only other Islander to win the award.

In the Standardbred Canada media excellence award category, Charlottetown resident Frances Lund won the outstanding photography award for her shot of Crombie A parading in the rain on Gold Cup and Saucer night minutes before the race was postponed to the next day. That makes a clean sweep for Lund, as she was already announced as the winner for the Dan Patch award next month honouring the best in U.S. Harness Racing. Charlottetown’s Anne MacNeill, the only other Islander to win, received the award in 2010.

Also on the night, William Andrew was presented with the Cam Fella Award for his outstanding contribution to Canadian harness racing. The Island native has been a strong supporter of the industry in the Maritimes and his current home of Alberta with Meridian Farms operations in P.E.I. and the western province, along with his sponsorship of stakes events and donations to charity. He joins former P.E.I. treasurer Mitch Murphy as the only Island winners of the Cam Fella award.

P.E.I. Scene

My condolences to the family of Hazel Davies of Belfast on her passing this week. The 81-year-old was the mother of Island horseman Albert Davies.


Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at

Geographic location: Iceland, Charlottetown, Mississauga Toronto Pennsylvania Red Shores Charlottetown Driving Park Summerside Ontario Sorento, Fla P.E.I. Alberta Belfast

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