by Frank Carulli
February 12, 2019
Abra Kadabra, a magic wand cast a spell on the 2018 O’Brien Awards.
Kadabra, who stands at Tara Hills Stud in Ontario, sired five of Canada’s 12 divisional champions in 2018. His offspring earned $7.4 million and excelled in trotting races throughout North America.
The winners were: Emoticon Hanover (Older Trotting Mare), who won her second Breeders Crown title; Will Take Charge (Older Trotting Horse), who topped $1 million in career earnings; Ontario Sire Stakes Super Final winners Forbidden Trade (2yo Trotting Colt) and Run Director (3yo Trotting Colt); and $241,000 earner Illusioneesta (3yo Trotting Filly).
Trainer Casie Coleman trained two O’Brien Award Winners, including McWicked, a runaway winner as the Somebeachsomewhere Horse of the Year. McWicked won the Breeders Crown Open Pace, scored his most lucrative of several major stakes victories in the $600,000 Canadian Pacing Derby and topped $4 million in lifetime earnings with 12 wins in 19 starts. Coleman also trained Stag Party, winner of the $890,000 Metro Pace and 2-Year-Old Pacing Colt honors.
Tall Drink Hanover swept the Whenuwishuponastar and Shes A Great Lady series’ and the The Ice Dutchess did the same in the Peaceful Way series to earn top 2-year-old filly pacing and trotting trophies, respectively.
Trainer of the Year Richard Moreau (315 wins, $4.6 million in earnings) and Driver of the Year Louis-Phillipe Roy (416 wins, $7.4 million in earnings) had a big hand in the success of $834,000 earner, Ontario Sire Stakes stalwart and champion 3-Year-Old Pacing Colt Jimmy Freight.
Shower Play paced 1:50.2 in the Fan Hanover finals en route to becoming 3-Year-Old Pacing Filly champion, while Exhilarated won 11 times in a taxing 44-race season to be named top Older Pacing Mare.
Conspicuous by her absence in the O’Brien Awards voting was Hambletonian winner Atlanta. She was disqualified from consideration because her trainer, Rick Zeron, was serving 1 180-day suspension. Standardbred Canada’s O’Brien Award eligibility policy states: “An O’Brien Award will not be presented to any individual or entity who has served, or is currently serving a penalty for a continued period of 180 days or more.”