When the late Ernie Samuel started his Sam-Son Farms breeding operation three decades ago, he had in mind a horse like Quiet Resolve.
Brimming with grit and heart, Quiet Resolve's narrow loss in the $2,271,680 Breeders' Cup Turf (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs in November would have made Samuel proud.
On Dec. 15 in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Quiet Resolve was named Canada's Horse of the Year as well as best turf male, two of five trophies won by Sam-Son and its horses at the 26th annual Sovereign Awards ceremony.
The farm's private trainer, Mark Frostad, won his third Sovereign Award as outstanding conditioner.
"I'm flabbergasted," said Tammy Samuel-Balaz, Samuel's daughter and racing manager. "He's an incredible horse. He epitomizes what a racehorse should be. He's not a portrait but he's got a lot of heart. To be Horse of the Year, he did us proud." Quiet Resolve, the seventh Horse of the Year for Sam-Son, posted a mild upset in the category, defeating One Way Love, the champion older male and sprinter, by only 22 voting points.
A delicate 5-year-old gelding by Affirmed, Quiet Resolve has been one of the country's best grass competitors since he recovered from a cracked pastern in 1998.
Following up on a strong '99 campaign which included a win via disqualification in the $1-million Atto Mile (Can-I) at Woodbine, the narrowly built bay won his first two starts of this year, including the Dixie Handicap (gr. IIT) at nine furlongs on the turf at Pimlico.
Quiet Resolve was a beaten favorite over his worst surface, soft turf, in the King Edward Breeders' Cup Handicap (Can-IIT) at Woodbine but rebounded with an easy score under jockey Robby Albarado in the Hong Kong Jockey Club Trophy (Can-IIT) in July.
He reportedly bled through his Lasix medication when third in the 12-furlong Niagara Breeders' Cup Handicap (Can-IIT), leading Frostad to believe his charge might be better off pointing to the Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) rather than the Turf.
The trainer turned the horse back in distance for the Keeneland Turf Mile (gr. IIT) in October but watched him race evenly in a third-place effort.
Frostad elected to stretch Quiet Resolve back out to the 1 1/2 miles of the Turf, a decision that almost got the farm it's second win in the race.
"(The mile-and-a-half distance) is at the very limits of his capabilities," said Frostad, who won the Turf with another Sam-Son Horse of the Year, Chief Bearhart, in 1997. "But he's a real scrapper and has a heart the size of the Northwest Territories."
Quiet Resolve, overlooked in the Breeders' Cup betting at 42-1, pressed a slow pace in the Turf and led until mid-stretch before being collared late by European invader Kalanisi.
That rich payday boosted the gelding's season earnings to $967,871 and his career total to $1,678,111 from seven wins in 16 starts.
Quiet Resolve was foaled at Sam-Son's Milton, Ontario, farm and is out of a homebred mare, Quiet Cleo, a daughter of the Sam-Son homebred sire No Louder and a winner of more than $500,000 on the track.
Sam-Son's homebred Catch the Ring, a daughter of Seeking the Gold, was a predictable winner as champion 3-year-old filly thanks to her five wins in eight starts including two-thirds of the Triple Tiara -- the Canadian Oaks and Bison City Stakes.
The farm also won its sixth outstanding owner trophy and third breeder award.
Sam-Son and Frostad sent out the winners of some $4.6 million in North America.
"If Ernie were here he would tell you it was a team effort," said Samuels' widow Liza. "It's been a wonderful year."
One Way Love, a finalist for best sprinter in 1999, was another consistently good performer at Woodbine this season. The 5-year-old son of Regal Classic, who was claimed by Bruno Schickedanz and John Hillier for $50,000 as a 2-year-old, won half of his 12 starts, and was third in the Vosburgh Stakes (gr. I) to Trippi at Belmont and earned $516,464. Bred by Jim Day, a former trainer for Sam-Son Farm, One Way Love won at sprint and route distances and was well managed by trainer Abraham Katryan. The horse beat out stablemate Wake At Noon for the top sprinter award.
John Franks' homebred Kiss a Native was pulled up in his first start for trainer David Bell in 2000 but went on to win five of eight starts, including the Pegasus Handicap (gr. II) at Meadowlands on Oct. 27 and was named outstanding 3-year-old colt or gelding over Queen's Plate winner Scatter the Gold. Kiss a Native was also a finalist for Horse of the Year.
Bell trained the year's champion turf female, Heliotrope, a homebred 5-year-old by Northern Score who won four of nine races this season, including the Nassau Stakes (Can-IIIT) for owners Richard and Jo Ellen Shaw.
Highland Legacy, who won three stakes races and the end of his first season of racing, was a landslide winner of the 2-year-old colt Sovereign Award for his owner, Empress Stable. Kinghaven Farms' Poetically, a daughter of this year's outstanding broodmare Primarily, was an upset winner in the juvenile filly category, beating out Sam-Son's Dancethruthedawn, a daughter of champion Dance Smartly.
Another surprising result was the win by Saorise, who beat out Gandria by 12 voting points for champion older female. The sprinting daughter of Cure the Blues was sold by Steve Stavro's Knob Hill Stables after winning four stakes races, including the Chicago Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. IIII), and is now owned by David and Ginger Mullins, William Butler, and William Steiden.
Patrick Husbands won his second consecutive award for outstanding jockey thanks to 178 Woodbine wins. Cory Clark, daughter of jockey finalist David, was an easy winner as top apprentice.
The Premier of Ontario, Mike Harris, was presented with the E.P. Taylor Award of Merit, not an annual award, in recognition of his government's policies. Harris and his team have been instrumental to the improvement of the local racing industry, reducing the provincial takeout on wagers to .5% and introducing legislation that led to the introduction of slot machines at the track.
Media awards went to Dave Landry for best photograph; Curtis Stock for outstanding newspaper article; Paradox Pictures for outstanding film/video/broadcast; and George Williams for feature story.
The complete list of Sovereign Award winners:
OUTSTANDING APPRENTICE JOCKEY
CHAMPION TWO-YEAR-OLD FILLY
CHAMPION TWO-YEAR-OLD MALE
CHAMPION THREE-YEAR-OLD FILLY
Catch the Ring
CHAMPION THREE-YEAR-OLD MALE
Kiss A Native
CHAMPION OLDER FEMALE
CHAMPION OLDER MALE HORSE
One Way Love
One Way Love
CHAMPION MALE TURF HORSE
CHAMPION FEMALE TURF HORSE
HORSE OF THE YEAR
OUTSTANDING NEWSPAPER STORY
OUTSTANDING FEATURE STORY
E.P. TAYLOR AWARD OF MERIT
The Honourable Michael D. Harris,
Premier of Ontario