The Jockey Club of Canada is pleased to announce that Robert “Red” McKenzie will be presented with the Special Sovereign Award during the 49th Annual Sovereign Awards ceremony on the evening of Thursday, April 18, 2024 in Woodbridge, Ontario.

Selected unanimously by the Jockey Club of Canada’s Stewards, the Special Sovereign Award recognizes a particular achievement within a given year. The honour is being bestowed upon Mr. McKenzie for becoming the oldest trainer to saddle a winner in Canada, doing so at the age of 96 on June 23, 2023 when his mare Entitled Star captured that day’s second race at Century Mile. With his training career dating to earlier than Equibase offers records, it is no doubt his career totals land him well above the 600+ wins and over $3.5M in earnings he has amassed since 1976.

The Jockey Club of Canada is proud to present Michelle Armata with the 2023 Outstanding Groom Award sponsored by OLG and Jennifer Buck with the inaugural Outstanding Off-track Worker Award. Both Michelle and Jennifer are spoken of very highly by their nominators, Josie De Paulo and Hazel Bennett, respectively.

With trainer Mike De Paulo serving a suspension to begin the 2023 racing season, his wife, assistant trainer Josie De Paulo, relied heavily on Michelle’s ability to keep their staff motivated and in good spirits through leading by example and being a role model for her peers. Among the horses Michelle has cared for over the years is 2016 Sovereign Award Champion 3 Year Old Filly and Horse of the
Year, Caren.

An 11-year veteran of Highfield Stock Farm in Okotoks, Alberta, Jennifer Buck now holds the role as Farm Manager and oversees the day-to-day operations of the farm. This includes handling successful sire Fed Biz and organizing his book of mares, foaling, yearling sales prep, and early training of yearlings before they embark on their careers at the racetrack.

The Jockey Club of Canada is also pleased to announce the finalists for the 2023 Media Sovereign Awards categories. Judging for the Media Awards is performed by media professionals within the industry selected from across North America.

Listed in alphabetical order, the Media finalists are:

Digital Audio/Visual and Broadcast Category

Santino Di Paola – Chasing Dreams in the King’s Plate
TAXI Agency – Ontario Racing UNFILTERED- Episode 5: The Kings Plate
Woodbine Entertainment Group – Secretariat The Last Race

Photograph Category

Patricia Burns – Rain Runnin
Allan de la Plante – Holding Back Disaster
Jason Halstead – A Kiss for Commando – published in Canadian Thoroughbred

Writing Category

Mark ColleyIt was the greatest race in Canadian history. Fifty years later, Secretariat’s
legacy is still felt – Toronto Star
Jennifer MorrisonCat’s Long Way Home – Canadian Thoroughbred
Curtis StockThe Turcottes

The winner in each of the three Media Award categories will be announced, along with the other Sovereign Award winners and Canada’s Horse of the Year during the 49th Annual Sovereign Awards Ceremony on the evening of Thursday, April 18, 2024 at Paramount Eventspace in Woodbridge, Ontario.