With the O'Brien Awards just around the corner - on Saturday, February 1st - there is a buzz of excitement brewing for many a Maritime connection involved... Century Farroh is a 3YO Pacing Colt finalist for the Ratchford Stables of Sydney, N.S.. The Mach Three colt won 12 of 16 races and banked almost $720,000 in 2019.
On the human side, of things, the Future Star Award finalists are Nova Scotia native Dave Kelly (now racing out of Alberta) and P.E.I.'s Austin Sorrie (now racing out of Ontario). Both gentlemen put up some great numbers in 2019... Kelly was dominating, at times, out west and Sorrie has been a nice fit on Ontario's racing scene. Great to see that Gilles Barrieau is a finalist for the O'Brien Award Of Horsemanship after another solid racing season.
A Media Excellence Award will be sought after by P.E.I. native Curtis MacDonald and his Cujo Entertainment production of an Industry Day video in the Outstanding Broadcast Category. The video was created for the Battle of Waterloo’s COSA Facebook Live Broadcast at Grand River Raceway last summer.
Truro's Kyle Burton will once again chase after a Media Excellence Award for Outstanding Photography. He captured his 'Under The Spotlight' photo during the post parade of the 2019 Gold Cup and Saucer in Charlottetown - with his photo appearing the very next day in Harness Racing Update.
And then there's the Cam Fella Award... A big congratulations to Island native Anthony MacDonald! Named in honour of the great Cam Fella - the award recognizes extreme recent meritorious service to the Canadian harness racing industry.
MacDonald, who has been training and driving horses since 1997, is receiving the award for the tireless and innovative work he has done in promoting harness racing and attracting new horse owners with the launch and growth of TheStable.ca. - Standardbred Canada
Raceway Wagering Record
The Raceway, in London, is a small half-mile harness racing track in south-western Ontario - that's now become a big player - as far as simulcast wagering goes in North America.
"We're very happy with the momentum The Raceway has right now," says Racing Manager Greg Gangle. "Yes we're a small track and it's been a number of small things that have us putting up these huge wagering numbers this meet... The new hi-definition racing signal - including new graphics has certainly helped," explains Gangle. "Rolling ticket ideas on our live feed one hour to post time, live paddock shots between races, setting very aggressive post times for those 'sweet spots' and even the new scratch rule, that was recently introduced, has helped with field sizes. All this and more have us going into 2020 on a roll!"
That new scratch rule Gangle speaks of...
"Any horse that is scratched from the outside post position at either The Raceway at Western Fair District or Flamboro Downs will be assigned the outside post position in its next start within 15 days of the scratched date."
I know, myself, the scratches in London have been way down since this rule came in to play - this time last month. Being a ship-in track and a winter racing track to boot - scratches, due to weather, are going to happen regardless, but we just aren't seeing as many outside post scratches anymore and that's a good thing for the wagering angle. Fuller fields increase handle...
And speaking of the handle... $794,590 was wagered on eleven races during the New Year's Eve program at The Raceway. That's an all-time record wager for a single race card in London and easily a 'record wager per-race' as well. I believe everything just set up perfectly for that big number and honesty - I don't think you'll ever see a half-mile track in Canada ever put up a huge number like that again on just eleven races. I just don't see it happening...
To those of you attending the O'Brien Awards in a few weeks - we'll look forward to seeing you all there - safe travels!