In my continuing effort to highlight racing not only in the United States, but the entire globe, I journey not too far outside of our borders to Canada for tonight’s article. The 2013 Sovereign Award finalists were announced today, and I’ve taken a stab at the winners of each of the racing categories, with my explanation for each. Keep in mind, the Sovereign Awards are open to juveniles who ran at least twice in Canada, and three-year-olds and up who ran there at least three times there during the calendar year. Who were the top thoroughbred horses of Canada in 2013? Here are my selections...
Ria Antonia, Paladin Bay, Lexie Lou
She may have been denied top honors in the U.S., but I'd like to see Ria Antonia recognized with a championship in Canada. Her fantastic performance in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies dwarfs anything her competition can boast. Next stop for the millionaire daughter of Rockport Harbor will be on the 2014 Kentucky Derby trail.
Jose Sea View, Go Greeley, Ami’s Holiday
It was not easy to separate the top four candidates in this category, but in the end I went with the colt with good form in the U.S. Undefeated in two starts in Canada, including a season ending victory in the Display, this Reade Baker trainee won a hundred grander at Presqu Isle, and was not embarrassed when 5th against the likes of Cairo Prince and Noble Moon in the Grade 2 Nashua Stakes.
Leigh Court, Overheard, Nipissing
A nice filly the first half of the year, Leigh Court really turned it on in the second half. Three consecutive impressive stakes victories at Woodbine proceeded a trip south for the Grade 1 Quuen Elizabeth Cup at Keeneland. The daughter of Grand Slam gave up the lead that afternoon, but her 1 ¼ length loss was excellent, and enough to tip the scales in her favor over the ill-fated Nipissing, and Overheard.
Up With the Birds, River Seven, Five Iron
Not only do I believe that Up With the Birds was the best three-year-old in Canada, but I believe he was also the best three-year-old turf horse in North America. The Sam-Son homebred was pretty good on Polytrack as well, with an easy win in the Marine Stakes, and a rather unlucky loss in the Queen’s Plate. Among his turf highlights included a win in the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes, and the Grade 1 Jamaica at Belmont.
Sisterly Love, Monlit Beauty, Part the Seas
In a somewhat uninspiring division, I’ll side with Sisterly Love. 0-for-4 against strong competition in the U.S., the five-year-old Bellamy Road mare was able to string together easy scores in the Trillium and Ontario Matron in June and July.
Herbie D, Ultimate Destiny, Alpha Bettor
While there were several good candidates in Ontario, I am going with the West Coast candidate here. Herbie D verified his excellent form in Vancouver with a highly successful raid on Seattle. A winner of 10-of-13 lifetime, the five-year-old gelding followed up an easy score in the Mt. Rainier, with an important victory in the historic Longacres Mile.
Goldstryke Glory, Part the Seas, Youcan’tcatchme
After starting the season with three defeats, this three-year-old daughter of Second in Command rattled off three impressive wins at Woodbine. All at six furlongs, the victories were strong enough, and fast enough, to edge by her competition in this contentious category.
Phil’s Dream, Essence Hit Man, Bear No Joke
It’s not easy to go against the tough as nails Essence Hit Man, but on the other hand, the year put together by Phil’s Dream is impossible to ignore. In ten races in 2013, all at Woodbine, the five-year-old gelding came home with seven victories, one second, one third, and one fourth. He isn’t a dominating winner, but he danced every dance, and fired every time. His win in the Grade 1 Nearctic was the performance of his career.
Female Turf Horse:
Solid Appeal, Leigh Court, Overheard
She may have been beaten in her final three starts of the season, including the Beverly D., but I believe the start of the year was strong enough for Solid Appeal to edge out her excellent competition from the younger fillies. Back-to-back easy scores in the Grade 2 Nassau and Grade 2 Dance Smartly were, well, solid.
Male Turf Horse:
Up With the Birds, Forte Dei Marmi, River Seven
This was a tough decision, as both the three-year-old Up With the Birds, and the seven-year-old Forte Dei Marmi had three nice stakes wins on the grass in 2013. While the older runner held a slight advantage competition wise in his wins, it was the consistency of Up With the Birds (below) that decided things for me. Only a just miss late and wide rally in the Transylvania stopped a perfect season on the turf for the son of Stormy Atlantic.