SKY PROMISE, contender for Champion 3-year-old colt in Canada – ASSINIBOIA DOWNS photo

WONDER GADOT, Queen’s Plate and Prince of Wales winner looms large for Horse of the Year in Canada 2018 – JOHN WATKINS PHOTO












Finalized ballots due Jan 21.

A select group of voters across Canada have received statistical packages as a guide for voting for the 2018 Sovereign Award champions of 2018.

Voters are required to pick your first, second, and third placed choices for each category. Voters then must finalize the ballot after selecting candidates.

Voters are asked to “keep in mind that Canadian statistics should be used as the primary source for your voting with the US statistics as a secondary supplement. We are looking for competitors that have excelled within Canadian racing.”

Of particular interest this year were the accomplishments of horses based in western Canada including triple-Derby winner SKY PROMISE and the amazing ESCAPE CLAUSE, who had been racing in California recently with good results.

Of course, voters can place their checkmarks beside any horse or horseperson’s name but here is a brief primer on who some of the contenders are for each division.

*Two-year-olds must have raced in Canada 2 times, all other horses must have made three starts in Canada.



Contentious category with several fillies warranting a look. Not in an particular order:

TIZ BREATHTAKING won the Grade 3 Mazarine Stakes, the Shady Well, was 3rd in the Princess Elizabeth to Bold Script and a troubled 3rd, placed 2nd in the My Dear. Owned and bred by Bill Graham, trained by Mike Doyle.

MY GAL BETTY was on a roll right from the start of her career with wins in the My Dear on the Tapeta and Catch a Glimpse Stakes on turf. She was a super 2nd in the Grade 1 Natalma before she was 9th on very soft turf in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Ownedby Bill Werner, trained by Roger Attfield.

BOLD SCRIPT won the Princess Elizabeth for Canadian-breds, was 2nd to the colt Avie’s Flatter in the Cup & Saucer, 3rd in the Grade 1 Natalma and Catch a Glimpse. A Chiefswood Stable homebred.

SUMMERLAND won 3 stakes races in BC and Alberta at 3 different distances and went 5 for 5 in Canada. George Gilbert owns, Phil Hall trains.



AVIE’S FLATTER, owned and bred  by Ivan Dalos will get most of the votes based on his Cup & Saucer and Coronation Futurity wins on 2 different surfaces.

Graded stakes placed WAR OF WILL could get some votes as will Grey Stakes (Grade 3) winner SOLIDIFY.



WONDER GADOT. Shades of Lexie Lou but ‘Gadot’ was a road warrior and iron horse in 2018 and her narrow loss in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks was one of her best races of her season. Incredibly, she lost the Woodbine Oaks as Dixie Moon scored a crafty win, but she brushed that off with the Plate and ‘Wales win.

DIXIE MOON won the Oaks and the Carotene Stakes and HERE’S HANNAH won 4 stakes races in 5 starts.



While WONDER GADOT bossed around the boys, the 3-year-old boys category was a bit light this past year.

The guys that chased that filly in the Plate and ‘Wales, Aheadbyacentury and Cooler Mike, did not win a stakes race during the year. The 3rd jewel of the Triple Crown, the Breeders’ Stakes on grass, was won by Neepawa, who did not do a lot more in the season.

It seems as if SKY PROMISE is the likely champion based on his whirlwind tour of Manitoba, Alberta and BC last summer when he won all 3 Derbies.

No horse has ever accomplished that feat as far as I researched which was more than 50 years!

He was also 2nd earlier in the year in the John Battaglia stakes at Turfway Park and a troubled 5th in the Zia Park Derby at year’s end.


This category, as with the Older Male, can be considered a category for main track horses at route distances. However, sprinters or grass horses get votes if there is not a standout in the category.

Remember, turf horses and sprinters have their own categories.

The top older mares at route distances in 2018 include Manitoba’s Horse of the Year, ESCAPE CLAUSE who won 9 of 13 races in 2018, 8 stakes (including on on the grass at Del Mar). She had high Beyer Speed Figures while competing at Assiniboia Downs and has done well in recent starts in California (on turf).

GAMBLE’S GHOST won 3 stakes from 5 starts in the year including 2 graded events and the BC mare VICTRESS won the Grade Ballerina Stakes and the Monashee Stakes from her 3 outings during the season.



This category was won by Pink Lloyd last year as he was unbeaten during the season and dominated his sprint division (he was also named Horse of the Year).

Lloyd will likely get plenty of votes again as he won 5 sprint stakes and figures to be named Champion Sprinter but there were plenty of older males who won big events in route distances on the main track.

MR HAVERCAMP won the Grade 2 Autumn and the Steady Growth Stakes and also had a stellar turf season with a Grade 2 win in the Play the King and a 2nd in the Woodbine Mile (G1).

TIZ A SLAM won the Grade 3 Dominion Day at 10 furlongs and backed that up with a Grade 2 win on turf in the Nijinsky Stakes.

DECORATED SOLIDER won the Grade 3 Seagram and the Presque Isle Mile at Presque Isle.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME, LOOKING FOR EIGHT, PUMPKIN RUMBLE and CALGARY CAPER  won graded stakes races on the main track.



Last year’s champion MOONLIT PROMISE won the Grade 3 Bessarabian and the Sweet Briar Too Stakes and she placed in 3 others as well as 4th in a Grade 3 at Gulfstream Park.

CODE WARRIOR won 3 stakes races including 2 that were graded, LET IT RIDE MOM won the Grade 3 Whimsical and placed in 3 other sprint stakes.

SILENT SONET won the Grade 3 Ontario Fashion. Turf sprinters who did well in 2018 may also get votes.



PINK LLOYD won 5 stakes races including the Grade 3 Vigil and he beat other contenders such as YORKTON, who also had a big year. KINGSPORT defeated Pink Lloyd in the Shepperton Stakes.



JOHNNY BEAR won the Grade 1 Northern Dancer for the second year in succession and TIZ A SLAM won the Grade 2 Nijinsky.

MR. HAVERCAMP won the Grade 2 Play the King, a turf sprint and his 2nd place finish in the Grade 1 Woodbine to Oscar Performance was a big effort.



Last year’s champion STARSHIP JUBILEE was at the top of the group again with a win in the Grade 2 Canadian Stakes (104 beyer Figure), a win in the Sunshine Millions Turf and a super 4th place finish in the Grade 1 E p Taylor.

Niigon’s Eclipse and Way to Versailles won graded stakes on turf.

other categories that will be voted on include OUTSTANDING BROODMARE (lifetime achievement award), JOCKEY, APPRENTICE, TRAINER, OWNER and BREEDER.

The Sovereign Awards will be held on April 18 at



HEAVY METAL won last year’s Godolphin Mile and returns from a long layoff Thursday morning in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge 1 VANESSA NG PHOTO – HORSE-RACES.NET










If you are looking for excellent horse racing action on Thursday mornings, Meydan racing in Dubai is heating up as that meeting leads to the DUBAI WORLD CUP.

The UAE 2000 Guineas Trial has a big field of exciting 3-year-olds including Group 1 winner ROYAL MARINE and US colt GIANT HERO, a Giant’s Causeway fellow who won his debut at Ellis Park before being sold to Dubai interests.


From The

The Maktoum Challenge Round 1 for both thoroughbreds and Purebred Arabians is the highlight of the second meeting of this year’s Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse.

The Group 2 race for thoroughbreds has drawn nine runners, including Gold Town, Godolphin’s UAE 2000 Guineas winner trained by Charlie Appleby and ridden by James Doyle.

The four-year-old gelding by the 2002 Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry is returning to the Dubai track for his first start after finishing fourth in the UAE Derby on Dubai World Cup night last March.








Field in flux but Accelerate ready

The Jan. 26 PEGASUS WORLD CUP, worth $9 million is beginning to come together with the latest news being that LEOFRIC has withdrawn and talks are beginning to perhaps get recent Malibu Stakes winner MCKINZIE into the field.

The Breeders’ Cup Classic winner ACCELERATE looms the big favourite


Accelerate [Lookin At Lucky – J. Sadler/J. Rosario – 22: 10-5-5 – $5,792,480]

Audible Into Mischief – T. Pletcher/J. Castellano – 8: 5-1-2 – $1,220,520]

Bravazo [Awesome Again – D. W. Lukas/J. Rosario – 16: 3-4-3 – $1,303,528]

City of Light [ Quality Road – M. McCarthy/J. Castellano – 10: 5-4-1 – $1,662,600] .

Gunnevera [ Dialed In – A. Sano/I. Ortiz Jr. – 19: 6-5-2 – $4,111,800]

Kukulkan Point Determined – F. Gutierrez/I. Ortiz Jr. – 14: 14-0-0 – $73,650]

McKinzie [ Street Sense – B. Baffert/M. Smith – 7: 5-1-0 – $1,086,000]

Patternrecognition [ Adios Charlie – C. Brown/J. Ortiz – 11: 5-5-0 – $812,325]

Seeking the Soul [ Perfect Soul – D. Stewart/J. Velazquez – 23: 6-5-6 – $1,701,042] Seeking the Soul ran second in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile behind City of Light, but was himself well ahead of the show horse Bravazo. He is the past winner of the Grade 1 Clark Handicap and will again go at a big price in this race.

Tom’s D’Etat –
True Timber [ Mineshaft– K. McLaughlin/J. Bravo – 17: 4-4-4 – $550,550]

Also possible are Canadian-breds Something Awesome and Unbridled Juan from Stronach Stables.




Ray Paulick goes “One on One” with Woodbine Entertainment’s CEO JIM LAWSON.

Jim Lawson talks second turf course, the issue of horse supply, property construction and more.