by Frank Carulli
February 11, 2020
The “grand” stage wasn’t too big for Canadian-bred Forbidden Trade in 2019. The 3-year-old trotter upstaged his victory in the Ontario Sire Stakes Final with eight wins on the Grand Circuit that spanned North America and a lifetime-best performance in winning the world-renowned Hambletonian at the Meadowlands.
He surprised no one when named Horse of the Year in Canada at the O’Brien Awards banquet earlier this month. Forbidden Trade earned a second piece of hardware as champion sophomore trotter with an 8-for-14 record and $1 million seasonal bankroll. In the Hambletonian, Forbidden Trade dug in for driver Bob McClure and repelled a stretch challenge by 1-to-5 favorite Greenshoe to prevail by a neck in 1:51. Luc Blais trained the son of Kadabra for owner Determination Stable.
Forbidden Trade was among 12 divisional champions honored at the O’Brien Awards. The storylines included:
· McWicked, the 2018 Horse of the Year in Canada and the U.S., repeating as best Older Pacing Horse. He won multiple stakes despite battling foot problems throughout the year. He retired to a career at stud with $5.1 million in earnings.
· Bob McIntosh trained, co-owned and bred both 3-year-old filly champions – trotter Only Take Cash and pacer Sunny Dee (13-23). Only Take Cash finished tied in the voting for divisional honors with Evident Beauty, a $617,050 earner in 2019.
· Musical Rhythm bounced back from a life-threatening infection in 2018 to be named Older Trotting Horse of the year in 2019. He won six consecutive races that included a track-record 1:50.4 trot at Woodbine-Mohawk Park. Trainer Ben Baillargeon also handled HP Royal Theo, the O’Brien winner as 2-year-old Trotting Colts.
· Atlanta, the 2018 Hambletonian winner, added an O’Brien Award to her collection as top Older Trotting Mare. She won the Graduate series final at the Meadowlands in a world-record 1:49.1. Breeders Crown champion Caviart Ally was a convincing winner as Older Pacing Mare.
· Ontario Sire Stakes stalwarts Century’s Farroh (3YO Pacing Colts) and Alicorn (2YO Pacing Fillies) were named Canada’s best.
· Metro Pace winner Tall Dark Stranger (2YO Pacing Colts), the son of past O’Brien Award winners Bettors Delight and Precocious Beauty, followed in their footsteps.
· Dip Me Hanover swept through the Peaceful Way Stakes en route to 2YO Trotting Fillies honors.
· Richard Moreau led all trainers in wins (285) and earnings ($4.5 million) to win his seventh consecutive O’Brien Award. Louis-Phillippe Roy repeated as Driver of the Year with 293 wins and more than $5 million in earnings for the third consecutive year.