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Friday, December 14, 2007


ST. SIMON (1881-1890) is immortalized in bronze and winners of Sovereign awards (tonight at the Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto) gets a replica of the trophy.

St. Simon was undefeated in 10 races including a 20-Length win in the Ascot Gold Cup. He was a leading sire nine times and can be found in the lineage of racehorses all over the world.

Tonight's SOVEREIGN AWARDS, the 33rd edition, will honour the horses and horsefolks from 2007.

The nominees in all categories can be found in a post from a couple of days ago and I put odds on the likelihood of the winners.

Today, the Sovereign Awards are addressed in a couple of stories.

In Vancouver, Tommy Wolski thinks there is often an eastern bias but if you at this year's nominees, you can see a distinct, western slant.

The awards go to Ontario horses simply because they are generally faster, face better competition etc.

And, while Bob Cheema is a worthy nominee for top owner, there is no way that EUGENE MELNYK'S STABLE should lose this category.

(From The Province newspaper)

Sovereigns shine a light on horse racing in B.C.

Chance to overcome usual eastern bias

Tom Wolski, The Province

Published: Friday, December 14, 2007

Tonight for the 33rd year, the thoroughbred industry rolls out the Sovereign Awards red carpet in Toronto to salute achievements in Canadian horseracing.

Since the awards are always based in Ontario, rightly or wrongly only a handful of winners have come from B.C.

This evening that could all change. Among tonight's candidates is local businessman Bob Cheema, who with the season he's had should be named Outstanding Owner. Cheema's horses have won stakes races at every major track in Canada.

The statistic catching everyone's attention is that Cheema's stable has an amazing 47 per cent win rate.

He's started horses only 53 times but been victorious in 25 outings. Sixteen of those wins were in stakes races, bringing stable earnings to $1,553,633.

His stable includes five-year-old gelding True Metropolitan, named 2006 Champion Older Horse. He's on his way to repeat for the title.

This season True Metropolitan has won seven stakes races from only 11 starts. The horse has won races at all major racetracks for $441,268 this season.

Cheema's other Sovereign finalist is Dancing Allstar, bred in B.C by Bent Tree Farms. Dancing Allstar has won five races from seven and netted $300,000. She's the logical choice to be named Two-Year-Old Champion Filly.

This is Cheema's second consecutive nomination.

Cheema could also have played a major role in who wins for Outstanding Trainer.

Nominated again is Hastings- based Terry Jordan, whose major client happens to be Cheema.

Jordan this year took his show on the road, winning major races at Hastings, Northlands Park, Stampede Park in Alberta and Woodbine Racetrack in Ontario.

His nomination stemmed from an outstanding 54 winners from 166 starts; earnings of $1,661,000 that included an astonishing 17 stake victories; and a win percentage of 33, highest among all nominees in this category.

"I will probably be second or third, with Woodbine's Mark Casse the winner," offered Jordan. "Just being nominated is great."

"What really makes our stable work is our team at the barns. My assistant trainer Milton Palma is really dedicated and he's the man who keeps it all together when I am on the road."

Among others with a good shot for a Sovereign is K.K. Sangara, whose Financingavailable is a nominee for both Champion Older Female on the Main Track and Champion Female. She will surely go home with at least one title.

Smith: Jambalaya left out in the cold

Beverley Smith, December 13, 2007 at 7:44 PM EST

The best horse in Canada won’t win a Sovereign Award on Friday night when they hand out the trophies. Pity.

Big ol’ Jambalaya should be winning Horse of the Year in Canada for this season, but he’s not even on the ballot.

The 5-year-old son of Langfuhr had a stellar season in 2007, winning the Arlington Million in Chicago in August. Add to that the (Grade One) Gulfstream Park Handicap and the (Grade Three) Pan American Handicap in Florida in early spring, and Jambalaya became one of the very few Canadian-breds in recent years to give Canadians something to cheer about.

In 2007, Jambalaya, named after a Hank Williams tune, won $979,421 (U.S.), earned an automatic trip to the Breeders’ Cup, showed up in headlines in Britain and New Zealand and even made it onto the top 10 list of thoroughbreds on the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s weekly poll.

Jambalaya wasn’t on the Canadian ballot because he’d raced only two times in Canada this season, and the requirement is that horses must run three times to be eligible. Jambalaya suffered an injury after the Arlington Million and didn’t run again in 2007.

The irony of this situation is that the Jockey Club of Canada changed the rules this year to allow 2-year-olds to become eligible for the awards with only two starts in Canada.

This has opened up a huge can of worms in the 2-year-old colt division, because no Canadian-bred colt was able to win more than one of the major stakes offered at Woodbine for their age. And that means that voters probably looked closely at Kodiak Kowboy, a U.S. colt that raced the minimum number of times in Canada.

Trained by Steve Asmussen (who sent up an assistant trainer to look after the colt) Kodiak Kowboy showed up at Woodbine for a two-furlong maiden race (that’s 220 yards, folks) and finished fourth on April 29. He came back and won the Victoria Stakes at five furlongs, and then never raced in Canada again. Add it all up, and the Kowboy didn’t run further than a mile in Canada and probably stayed no more than a week.

However, south of the border, he became fairly big news, winning the Bashford Manor Stakes at Churchill Downs and the Saratoga Special at Saratoga. He ended his season by finishing second in the important Belmont Futurity and third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (beaten by 16 3/4 lengths in the slop).

To read the rest of the story click here….


The Blood-Horse has a 31-page section in a recent issue studying synthetic surfaces at tracks across North America.

(Top Canadian racing photographer Dave Landry’s Sovereign Award nominated photo starts off the section on page 4 of the .pdf file that can be viewed on the Blood-Horse website)

Woodbine gets a lot of attention in the study as track officials, trainers, breeders and owners are asked their opinions.

The study was done before the tragic breakdown of Ghost Maker on the last night of racing but the overall statistics on breakdowns during racing are lower than ever.

Here are some comments from the section:

Said Tammy Samuel-Balaz, who runs Sam-Son Farms,“We’re having

some growing pains at Woodbine.

We go from cold temperatures to hot, and it’s a difficult situation. We’ve had a lot

of injuries—not catastrophic—but more unusual injuries in stifles and shoulders

and backs, things we don’t usually see.

This year the track has made adjustments and we’ve had less injuries.

“It’s not perfect—you can’t expect a new surface to be perfect—but I think it’s safer

than the dirt track was. It hasn’t been as straightforward and simple as we may

have hoped, but I’m optimistic that as they learn how to maintain it, we’ll get where

we need to be. I really believe in the synthetic surface once it’s set up well.”

Editor’s note: Sam-Son Farms reportedly had quite a few injuries this season and, for the first time in many years, does not have a horse nominated in any category at the Sovereign Awards tonight.

Lauri Kenny, who is the farm manager at Gus Schickedanz’ Schonberg Farm

north of Toronto, has not been impressed with the new Woodbine surface. Half of

the 16 horses Schickedanz raced at Woodbine have broken down this year, according to Kenny, with one fatality and two career-ending injuries.

“In a normal year, with more than 20 in training, two breakdowns would be a

lot,” said Kenny. “We’ve had very few fatal breakdowns historically. I think you’d have to go back to Woodcarver in the 1999 Queen’s Plate for our last one. Frankly, I wish they’d go back to the dirt.”

Trainer Robert Tiller: “I do have to say I think it’s gotten better in the last three months. I haven’t had as many injuries on it this year as I did last

year, so I think it’s going in the right direction. Up here, especially with our weather, it’s taken a lot more management than they predicted in regard to keeping it fair, with no bias. Let’s just say I’m not completely in love with it, but I certainly don’t hate it.”


  • At 9:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I certainly agree that Jambalaya was without a doubt the best Canadian-bred or based horse of 2007. I can't believe he didn't get more credit for his win in the Arlington Million. He would definitely be horse of the year if not for that little clause requiring him to make 3 starts in this country. Not that a disagree with that clause--I actually think it's a good thing--but in a case like this, it's still a shame that the best horse has to be on the fringes.

  • At 3:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    After viewing the results from the awards i thought that Matt Moore should have bin allot closer than what he was in the bug-boy category, i thought in the last half of the year he really polished his skills and looked very good on a horse, Pizzaro stopped riding because it got cold' i see life after bug for Moore but not Pizzaro. Givin the crap Matt Moore had to ride for the most part, i do belive that he is a better rider.

  • At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    St. Simon lived for 99 years according to you. Now that is impressive!!

  • At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    WHAT?? Matt Moore a better rider than Pizzaro? I like Matt as a person and he has ridden for me but Tyler is a natural talent and once Matts bug is gone I'd have to say it's all over for him. If I didn't get the weight allowance there would be no reason to use him. Tell me, if it were your horse would you rather have McAleney, Husbands or Moore?

  • At 7:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Give a rider the right horse they will look good, give them a bad one they will look bad. Its all about the horse!

  • At 8:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Moore is a nice kid but he's no natural. He got lucky with the mount on Arden Belle but he also cost her the win in the Matron. No idea why you'd ride a bug in a stake when you don't even get the weight allowance. Gomez out rode the kid and if Sadler had named Emma instead of Moore he might have been in line for an award last night.

  • At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's not all about the horse. The rider makes a huge difference. Alot of times the best horse does not win the race. Granted, a great rider can't get a bad horse to win but put a sub par rider on a good horse and watch him get you beat.

  • At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Most riders are good enough to give a horse a decent trip.. last year Jerry Baird was a nobody, this year he is riding good horses and all of a sudden he's the cats ass. ALL ABOUT THE HORSE!

  • At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What's all the crap about Matt Moore? The kid is still an apprentice (check the meaning of the word in the dictionary). I am just a racing fan who has been watching our apprentices and I believe that Matt Moore is going to be a very good rider. I hope by the end of next season the detractors will show themselves.

  • At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    How is it that you think Moore got all these bad horses to ride? If you are correct then perhaps he should fire his agent for selecting 94 bad horses for every 6 winners.

  • At 8:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What about next year when Moore's bug competition consists of Giddings,Pinto,Wyatt? might as well hand him his sovereign award now!!

  • At 8:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Julia Brimo won a sovereign years ago! what does it mean? she was just the best of a bad bunch, where is she now? galloping horses just where she started!

  • At 8:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Gotta admit that the crop of bugs for next year looks pretty bad. How long has Moore got left to ride with the weight off?

  • At 4:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Moore has all of 08 with the bug.

  • At 5:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    How about just having 1 soveriegn for all riders bugs & journeymen? and maybe just an award of merrit for the top bug.

  • At 3:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Is Michelle Rainford planning a comeback?

  • At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a sture up on the bug riders. As for Moore messing up the Sovereign for Sadler and Arden Belle, let me tell you there is alot more to the story then some might think.

  • At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Moore got more run out of his mounts than the other jocks did, all he got to ride was what nobody else wanted to it seems like.


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