The best in Canada's harness racing industry are in Charlottetown this weekend for the 25th O'Brien Awards.

Their namesake, Joe O'Brien, grew up in Alberton, P.E.I., and was a legendary harness driver. After a big race south of the border, he hit the big time.

"Joe showed some skill in driving that race,” said his nephew Mike O’Brien. “I think that launched his career. Of course, his knowledge and discipline with horses over the years all contributed to it."

Organizers said this will be the first time they've been held on the Island, where horse racing is king.

"Away from here, it's a gambling game. But here, it's all family. You wouldn't know anybody that isn't involved in the race horses some way or another,” said trainer Alex MacPhee. 


The O'Brien Awards mark the best in harness racing.

"It's a family tradition with an awful lot of families on the Island."

Close to 500 people are coming to P.E.I. for the awards.

"These awards would be comparable to the Grammys and the Oscars of the harness racing world,” said Colleen Dickie, the president of the PEI Standardbred Horse Owners Association.

Seventeen awards will be handed out at tonight's ceremony at the Convention Centre, including Canada's horse of the year, driver of the year and trainer of the year.

Four Islanders are up for awards.