James MacDonald (centre) accepts the Keith Waples Driver of the Year Award at the O’Brien Awards recently in Ontario. Making the presentation are granddaughters of Keith Waples while family and friends look on.
Prince Edward Island’s James MacDonald captured the 2022 Keith Waples Driver of the Year Trophy, one of the major awards at the annual O’Brien Awards Gala held on February 4, 2023 in Mississauga, Ontario. MacDonald led all Canadian drivers by a wide margin in wins at 451 and in money earned $9.9 million, and in addition captured the Lampman Cup as the leading driver in the Ontario Sire Stakes program. His back to back Canadian Driver of the Year awards also is historic in that he follows in the footsteps of older brother Mark who turned the trick as Canadian Driver of the Year in 2005 and 2006, a feat never before matched in harness racing history.
MacDonald was the first of four major winners with significant Prince Edward Island connections.
So Much More, raised right here on PEI by Nine Mile Creek breeders Doug, Tom and Cam MacPhee earned Aged Pacing Mare of the Year another great moment for the Big Jim filly who is pushing her lifetime earnings near the $1.5 million barrier, most ever by a PEI raised standardbred. Stockade Seelster took the O’Brien two year old pacing colt award for owners Sally and Paul Macdonald of Souris, PEI. The son of State Treasurer, also owned by the MacDonald family, won 8 of 11 starts in 2022 and banked more than $917,000 for the campaign. He also won the Metro Pace, a first for trainer Dr Ian Moore.
Dr Ian Moore won the O’Brien Award for Horsemanship and in the process banked $2.4 million as a trainer, his greatest season ever. Aside from training Stockade Seelster, Moore had in his stable the fast Tattoo Artist who banked more than $1 million for the season despite having to tangle with the great Bulldog Hanover on many occasions.
While on the topic of Awards, the Dan Patch Awards went Sunday night, February 19 in Orlando, Florida and once again Bulldog was the star of the show as the fastest horse of all -time p, 1:45:4 won Horse of the Year for the USA. Stockade Seelster was voted the Dan Patch Two Year Old colt pacer of the Year and Sally and Paul were there to accept the Award. Also Curtis MacDonald, brother of drivers James, Anthony, and Mark earned his first Dan Patch, actually the Sam McKee Award for Broadcast Excellence as his company CUJO Entertainment produced the 2022 Hambletonian for CBS Sports. Curtis started out as CDP track photographer with his mom Gail, then moved to Blue Bonnets with brother Lloyd who handled the simulcast operation at the Montreal track, and later with Dome Production at the Skydome in Toronto.
Successful Breeders Conference Live and Via Internet
The PEI Standardbred Breeders Conference held February 10-11 at Red Shores Charlottetown proved to be a thought provoking and most worthwhile experience for the many breeders and fans that attended. Approximately 100 attended live both days while another 2000 took in parts or all of the workshops via simulcast. Dean and Ashley Wilson of Kerwood who are among the top consigners to the Western Fair Ontario Sale with something like 50 head offered suggestions and tips on yearling preparation which is a major component of the selling experience. Workshops on Nutrition, on the what and how of dealing with Standardbred Canada and the paper trail got it from our own Joy Power, while Julie Jamieson spoke on the numerous incentives for Island breeders. The bottom line- a great two day workshop.
Donnie Turner Memorial set for May 21st at Truro Raceway
Stakes action in the Maritimes gets underway Sunday afternoon May 21 at Truro Raceway with the Donnie Turner Memorial for three year old colts and fillies. The first event for two year old pacers will be leg one the New Brunswick Breeders stake set for July 7th at Woodstock . The first Atlantic Sire stake action will be for two year old trotters scheduled for Tuesday, July 11 at Summerside. Invitational pacers open their season at Woodstock, New Brunswick on June 17th when competitors earn points towards the Premiers Cup to be raced Breeders crown weekend in Charlottetown.
Atlantic Sire Stakes opens June 11 at Truro
The Atlantic Sire stakes action kicks off June 11, 2023 at Truro Raceway with the three year old pacing fillies going behind the gate on Sunday afternoon. Five tracks will host Atlantic Sire stake events and that includes Charlottetown and Summerside on PEI , Inverness and North Sydney in Cape Breton and Truro Raceway, the major track in Nova Scotia. Again this year there will be no Atlantic Sire stake events in New Brunswick as that province opted out of the Atlantic Sire stakes program. We hate to see the loss of Exhibition Park, Saint John, once the giant of Maritime Racing with $100,000 live wagering throughout the 1980s on Saturday afternoons. The provincial government in that province had a chance to have a setup much like Charlottetown, the NB premier of the day in that province, promised it here at a Horseman’s Banquet but failed to deliver.
New Truro G M Fitzsimmons, Hearing glowing reports
The announcement that Truro Raceway has hired Steve Fitzsimmons as their new General Manager came as a surprise to many involved in the Ontario race game as he had done a splendid job at Hanover Raceway. I must have spoken to a dozen or so in the race game, drivers, trainers, race officials at Western Fair and Mohawk and the impression I got was that Truro has made an excellent hire. Fitzsimmons listens, hears both sides of a discussion, weighs all the factors and makes sound decisions, I’ve heard that over and over again from very reliable people.
I hope Steve is able to convince a Nova Scotia government of more support for Truro and it annoys me greatly to hear of the Nova Scotia squabble about a mere $100,000 more in support for the harness racing game. At any rate, we wish Steve all the best in his new venture at Truro Raceway and we believe he is the type of person that can rally the government and horsemen to his cause.
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