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Standardbred Canada Makes Changes to the O’Brien Award

Most recently Standardbred Canada announced that there will be some changes to the O’Brien Award of Horsemanship. The motion was approved by the organization’s Board of Directors in a recent meeting. The changes will be in regard to some of the conditions which determine the winner of this prestigious horse racing honor.

The purpose of this award is to acknowledge the Standardbred individual who best represents the standard of horsemanship demonstrated by Joe O’Brien. The previous criteria stated that eligible candidates for the award can be only trainer-drivers. But after the last meeting of the Standardbred Canada Board of Directors, this is not the case.

Measures Amendments

The O’Brien Award of Horsemanship will now recognize a trainer who represents the highest standard of horsemanship, which was demonstrated by Joe O’Brien during his iconic career. The award also includes conditions of outstanding care and training of Standardbreds, respect for the horse, commitment to the horse’s wellbeing, and success in the progress and training of young stallions.

After the recent changes, Canadian horse people will be now assessed on conditions that emphasize the development of young horses under their wing for the duration of a year. Also, the award will be open to both large and small operations. The focus of this honor is on the hands-on horseperson who manages to succeed within their racing jurisdiction and even further beyond.

Conditions for the evaluation of candidates will be considered integrity, professionalism, and commitment to put the horse’s needs first on the agenda. Other tools for assessment that will be used are performance ratings, a ratio of stakes wins out of all starts, and race lines that suggest signs of growth and maturity.

Standardbred Canada is now accepting nominations for the award from associations and membership. The proposals must be filed no later than one week prior to the meeting of the O’Brien Awards Nominating Committee, which is normally organized for the last week of November. The organization also informed of an approved recommendation to rename the O’Brien “Driver of the Year” the “Keith Waples Driver of the Year”.

Hall of Fame Induction

Speaking of live harness racing awards and honors, previously CEO and President of Woodbine Entertainment, Jim Lawson was officially included in the Burlington Sports Hall of Fame. He was rewarded for his contributions to the football, hockey, and horse racing industries. When younger Mr. Lawson was a successful hockey player as his career at the Ottawa 67’s, and later climbing the ladder and playing for the Montreal Canadiens.

No Info on CHRHF Ceremonies

Previously, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors informed that there are still no concrete dates for the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame’s Classes of 2020 and 2021. The entity’s intention is to provide its Inductees of the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 with the recognition that they undoubtedly deserve, as currently attendance will be limited and the winner will not be able to share these moments with their closest ones.

Source: “Changes To Criteria For O’Brien Award Of Horsemanship”, Standardbred Canada, August 29, 2021