Canadian Horse of the Year Goes to Mighty Heart

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Mighty Heart | Michael Burns

Dual Canadian Classic winner Mighty Heart (Dramedy), a homebred for Lawrence Cordes, was named Canadian Horse of the Year at the 46th Annual Sovereign Awards ceremony held Thursday evening. It marked the second year in a row Canada's championship awards were held virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Trained by Josie Carroll, Mighty Heart began his sophomore campaign in July with a maiden special weight victory at Woodbine, then went on to capture the Sept. 12 Queen's Plate S. and the Sept. 29 Prince of Wales S. The one-eyed fan favorite also earned the champion 3-year-old male honor.

Josie Carroll also trained the winner of the champion 3-year-old female title in Curlin's Voyage (Curlin). Running for the partnership of Hill 'n' Dale Equine Holdings and Windsor Boys Racing, Curlin's Voyage won both the Woodbine Oaks and the Fury S.

Champion older main track male honors went to the Gary Barber and Lucio Tucci runner Skywire (Afleet Alex), who won the GII Autumn S. and the GII Eclipse S. Live Oak homebred Souper Escape (Medaglia d'Oro), winner of both the GIII Seaway S. and the GIII Trillium S., took home the champion older main track female award.

The Sovereign for champion 2-year-old colt was awarded to Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber's Gretzky the Great (Nyquist), winner of the GI Summer S. and Soaring Free S., while champion 2-year-old filly honors went to Charles E. Fipke's homebred Lady Speightspeare (Speightstown), who captured the GI Natalma S.

The title of champion male turf horse went to GI Northern Dancer S. winner Say the Word (More Than Ready), an Agave Racing Stable and Sam-Son Farm colorbearer. Augustin Stables homebred Theodora B. (Ghostzapper), who won the GII Dance Smartly S. and the TVG S., took home the champion female turf award.

Always popular, the 2017 Canadian Horse of the Year Pink Lloyd (Old Forester), who had also previously been named champion male sprinter three times, as well as champion older dirt male and champion older horse, was back to add another championship title to his resume with a fourth consecutive champion male sprinter honor. The Entourage Stable champ added four of his 23 total black-type victories in 2020: the GIII Vigil S., the GIII Jacques Cartier S., the GIII Bold Venture S., and the Shepperton S. Artie's Princess (We Miss Artie), a homebred for Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, captured the GII Bessarabian S., the Ruling Angel S., and the champion female sprinter award.

The final equine award given at the Sovereigns is outstanding broodmare, which went to Danceforthecause (Giant's Causeway). The 10-year-old mare has produced two graded winners from two starters, including Grade I winner Say the Word, whose champion male turf horse award would be announced just moments after Danceforthecause's honor. The mare also produced GII Canadian S. winner Rideforthecause (Candy Ride {Arg}), who finished second by a narrow margin in voting for the evening's champion female turf horse award. Danceforthecause was sold by Sam-Son Farm at the Keeneland January sale to Gainesway Farm for $925,000.

Trainer Mark Casse earned his 12th Sovereign Award for outstanding trainer. His trainees won 93 Canadian races in 2020–17 in stakes events–and earned over $5.3 million. Among his runners were aforementioned champions Gretzky the Great and Skywire. Outstanding jockey went to Rafael Hernandez, whose 129 wins in 2020 contributed to his earnings of over $5.4 million. Among his regular mounts were champions Pink Lloyd and Skywire. The Sovereign for apprentice jockey went to Mauricio Malvaez, whose 16 scores topped all apprentices in Canada for 2020. Among his victories was his first black-type win, which took place in the GIII Canadian Derby aboard Real Grace (Mineshaft).

Live Oak Plantation was named outstanding owner with earnings of over $1.1 million. Among Live Oak's best runners of 2020 was champion Souper Escape. Outstanding breeder honors went to Tall Oaks Farm, which led Canadian breeders in purse earnings with $2.2 million. The outstanding groom award went to champion Pink Lloyd's groom Michelle Gibson. She has been a part of Hall of Fame trainer Robert Tiller's operation for almost 10 years.

As had been previously announced, Sam-Son Farm was honored with a special sovereign award. Outstanding photograph went to Will Wong for his work entitled Mambointheforest, which was published on the Ontario Racing website; outstanding writing was awarded to Chris Lomon for “The Pep-Talking Groom, Willy, and a Queen's Plate Crown,” also published on the Ontario Racing website; and Santino di Paola won the outstanding digital audio/visual and broadcast award for his work called Dear Horse Racing, which was published on YouTube by Woodbine.

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