Standardbred racing has changed some of its rules to help improve the sport. One of the new changes is the use of the handicap system. The handicap system is used to help some horses that are not very fast, but are still very good. There are some horses that are handicapped all the way down to the lowest level. The O’Brien award is given to the top money earner of the first three legs of the Standardbred Canada Triple Crown. The first winners of the first leg of the triple crown will be the first three O’Brien winners.

Two years ago, Standardbred Canada made changes to the O’Brien Award. The changes stemmed from complaints that the initial awards were too generous, resulting in many top trainers receiving multiple awards, which would dilute the purse money that each horse would receive. The decision to limit the number of awards was made, resulting in the loss of many top trainers, including drivers and horses that were once in contention to win the top prizes.

Standardbred Canada announced that it is making some changes to the O’Brien Award, which is given to the top Canadian thoroughbred horse during the Standardbred Canada National Championships. The changes include the addition of $1 million in prizemoney, which will be available to the top four finishers in each division of the National Championships. The changes are expected to be in effect for the 2017 Standardbred Canada National Championships in Cartier, Quebec.

Standardbred Canada has stated that the O’Brien Award of Horsemanship would undergo significant modifications. In a recent meeting, the organization’s Board of Directors endorsed the move. The modifications will affect some of the criteria used to select the winner of this renowned horse racing award.


The goal of this award is to recognize the Standardbred person who best exemplifies Joe O’Brien’s level of horsemanship. The former requirements specified that only trainer-drivers were eligible for the prize. However, this is no longer the situation after the Standardbred Canada Board of Directors’ most recent meeting.

Amendments to Measures


The O’Brien Award of Horsemanship will now honor a trainer who exemplifies the greatest level of horsemanship as shown by Joe O’Brien throughout his legendary career. The prize also includes criteria such as excellent Standardbred care and training, horse respect, dedication to the horse’s well-being, and achievement in the development and training of young stallions.

Following the latest revisions, Canadian horse people will now be evaluated based on circumstances that prioritize the growth of young horses under their care for a year. The prize will also be available to both big and small businesses. The emphasis of this award is on the hands-on horseperson who achieves success both inside and outside of their racing jurisdiction.

Integrity, professionalism, and a dedication to putting the horse’s needs first will be considered criteria for applicant assessment. Performance ratings, a ratio of stakes victories out of all starts, and race lines that indicate indications of development and maturity will also be utilized as evaluation methods.

Nominations for the award are currently being accepted from organizations and members of Standardbred Canada. The ideas must be submitted at least one week before the O’Brien Awards Nominating Committee meeting, which is usually held the final week of November. The organization also announced that a proposal to rename the O’Brien “Driver of the Year” to “Keith Waples Driver of the Year” had been accepted.

Induction into the Hall of Fame

In terms of live harness racing accolades and honors, Jim Lawson, the former CEO and President of Woodbine Entertainment, was inducted into the Burlington Sports Hall of Fame. He received recognition for his services to the sports of football, hockey, and horse racing. Mr. Lawson was a good hockey player when he was younger, beginning his career with the Ottawa 67’s and then rising up the ranks to play for the Montreal Canadiens.

There is no information regarding CHRHF Ceremonies.

The Board of Directors of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame previously said that no specific dates for the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame’s Classes of 2020 and 2021 had been set. The entity’s goal is to provide the Class of 2020 and Class of 2021 Inductees the attention they so well deserve, since attendance will be restricted and the winner will be unable to enjoy these special moments with their loved ones.

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

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • standardbred horse
  • standardbred race horses
  • pacer horse gait
  • standardbred canada horses for sale
  • standardbred canada news
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