Cindy Acton wins outstanding groom award

Cindy Acton, a groom working at Classy Lane Training Centre in Puslinch, received the first ever outstanding groom award at the 2015 O’Brien Awards.

“It was pretty awesome being nominated and it was even more thrilling to win it,” Acton, 29, said.

 Each year the O’Brien Awards honour Canada’s best in harness racing over the past season, and on Feb. 13 the caretakers were also recognized.

“I was so nervous … but when they called me up I was definitely excited and happy and thrilled,” she said.

Acton said she was as excited that the award existed as she was for the win.

“Anyone could have won it and I would have been happy about it because it was the first time they’ve done that and it really should be continued every year for caretakers because … grooms don’t get a whole lot of recognition,” she said.

Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation sponsored the award.

Acton began working with horses when she was 13.  

Once she completed college Acton became a fulltime groom and moved to the U.S. to work for Lindy Farms for three and a half years.

When her work visa expired she returned to Canada with the goal of landing a job at Classy Lane.

“I love this farm, I love the facility so I was like ‘I want to get a job working here,’” Acton said. “Whichever trainer I can work for would be good.”

Acton knew Puslinch trainer Ben Wallace had a larger stable so she approached him, asking for a job.

“He said I’ll let you know on Friday so I turned around and started walking towards this barn to go and see another trainer and I didn’t make it halfway across and he said, ‘can you start Friday?’’’ she said with a laugh.

“I’ve been with him for five and half years now.”

Acton lost all the horses she cared for during the Jan. 4 Classy Lane fire that killed 43 horses at the facility.

Today she has five new horses in her care and they’re all figuring each other out.