Dave Briggs wins Sovereign Award for Ontario's cautionary tale

Dave Briggs was named winner of the 2014 Media Sovereign Award for writing for a six-part series on slots in Ontario racing published by Thoroughbred Racing Commentary in April 2014. The Sovereign Awards, initiated to celebrate the champions Thoroughbred racing in Canada, were presented at ceremony in Ontario on April 10.

It was the first Sovereign Award for Briggs, 45, a horse racing columnist and features writer, as well as the co-editor of Canadian Thoroughbred magazine. For 18 years, he was the editor of the harness racing trade publication The Canadian Sportsman.

“I’m deeply honoured to win a Sovereign Award. I have tremendous respect for the people and horses of Canada’s Thoroughbred industry and I feel blessed and humbled just to have my name appear with some fantastic writers that have covered this sport down through the ages," said Briggs. "I couldn’t be happier that this series appeared in Thoroughbred Racing Commentary. I love few things more than horse racing and quality, thought-provoking, long-form journalism and everyone at TRC — from Charles Hayward and Ashley Herriman on down — excels at sharing that passion on a global scale.” 

Briggs' Sovereign Award-winning story covered the collapse of the Ontario Slots at Racetracks Program. The government’s sudden decision to cancel the program in 2012 dealt a nearly fatal blow to racing and breeding in Ontario, and Briggs explored the ill-fated slots era in a six-part series with an eye toward lessons for racing jurisdictions in America that derive revenue from other forms of gaming. 

Briggs is the first person to win Canada's top Standardbred and Thoroughbred writing awards in the same year. In February, he received Outstanding Written Work honors from Standardbred Canada for "Desperate Situations" a feature for the United States Trotting Association magazine, Hoof Beats, focusing on the end of the Slots at Racetracks Program and its effects on the Standardbred industry. That story also netted Briggs a John Hervey Award for excellence in harness racing journalism.

"As racing and gaming have become increasingly intertwined in the U.S., we felt it was important to publish a story deeply exploring the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks Program and the ensuing fallout," said Thoroughbred Racing Commentary editor Ashley Herriman. "It was an honor to work with Dave on his thorough and thoughtful story, and we are especially grateful to have published a piece recognized with such a prestigious award so early in the publication's existence."

Judging for the 2014 Media Sovereign Award categories was performed by Professors of the Journalism Program at the School of Media Studies & Information Technology, Humber Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Other Media Sovereign Awards went to Scott Jagow of The Paulick Report (Digital Audio/visual and Broadcast Category for Woodbine Diaries) and Cindy Pierson Dulay of Horse-Races.net (Photography Category for an image of of Big Bazinga). 

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