Day At The Track
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And the winners are ...at Saturday nights Quebec Gala des Champions held virtually at the Hippodrome 3R.   What a party! What a Gala! What class! What pictures! And a host Guy Lafontaine who carried the animation on his shoulders in a very professional way. 2020 has taken H3R to another level in terms of broadcasting. Well done to the technical team and to Ms. Murielle Thomassin, Director of Racing Operations at H3R, for orchestrating this unforgettable season.   Trainer of the Year   Francis Richard   Some might argue that it is easy to rack up the wins when a trainer has several top horses in his stable. But others will argue that twelve horses often equal twelve problems. Francis's winning recipe in 2020 was the same: a lot of teamwork, he will be the first to say it. A job that is so demanding that his stable is made up mostly of young horses, often just starting out. The lessons learned in Ontario from David Menary will have once again served Francis in the difficult art of bringing horses to the photographer. This is the fourth straight year that Francis has been the leading trainer at H3R.   Driver of the Year   Pascal Berube   Pascal's background serves him well and makes him one of the most popular drivers of a wide variety of trainers and owners. This is what sets him apart from many of his colleagues: he drives horses from almost all stables with equal success. In addition, he is second to none when it comes to throwing his horses in front of the peloton and especially advancing them under the wire. Widely favorite horses, he doesn’t drive dozens and that’s his strength:in getting the best out of each of his mounts. A great and beautiful year for him in 2020.   Rookie of the Year   Samuel Fillion   At the end of the 2019 season, when Samuel finally obtained his license to drive in professional races, was difficult. The victories did not come, his nervousness was palpable. Until the start of this season and a notable win with DJ Power, he is off to a good start, with a season that has elevated him to the best at H3R. And it’s not over yet, you can say. With more and more drives for top teams, Samuel has acquired great experience which serves him better and better. He is also learned from the best as he is a brother-in-law of driving greats Louis-Philippe Roy and Pierre Luc Roy.   Groom of the Year   Wendy St-Pierre   Behind every great man, they say, hides a woman who makes him great! The Marc-André Simoneau team can be counted lucky to have this rare pearl in its ranks, in Wendy St-Pierre. The tireless, competent, passionate Wendy is, with talent and skill recognized by her peers. When we think of the success of the Simoneau team, we inevitably think of the skill and dedication of Marc-André's wife, Wendy. A groom, who makes all these little things that go unnoticed but make a difference.   Breeder of the Year   Denitza Petrova   Great year for the Kinnder Stable! Not one, but two Quebec finals champions, and a track record in the books for the 3-year-old filly Kinnder High Class and an undefeated 2YO season for Kinnder Dangerzone! Kinnder has become, thanks to the flair and hard work of its leader, a winning and high quality trademark. And the future looks even brighter, if possible, with Denitza's acquisition of sire Northern Escort, who has been the source of many of the team's successes in the past. Better still, thanks to this acquisition, breeders in the Quebec  province will also be able to benefit from this champion line.   Trotter of the Year   Kinnder High Class 10 (7-1-1) $ 52,933, record 1.58.1 Denitza Petrova stable   Denitza Petrova's top filly, skillfully driven by Pierre-Luc Roy and later by Samuel Fillion, was a serious contender for this title by virtue of her eight victories, all won before our eyes, including the one won in the Quebec Championship final which earned her a track record, 1.58. 1. A remarkable progression for this Chestnut blonde girl from Royalty For Life, whose mane flapping in the wind, has gone viral. In 2019, in seven small starts, no victory, but as it often happens with trotters, second hand, explosion, blossoming of a talent that the most discerning observers had had a hunch about. She was also the winningest horse at H3R this sason.   Pacer of the Year   Forward 7 (7-0-0) $ 11,950 1.54.3 Determination Stable - Guy Corbeil Trainer: Maxime Velaye Driver: Stéphane Gendron   The incredible story of this pacemaker will have struck everyone's mind, not only at H3R but also across Canada, as he continued in Toronto, his winning streak to 11 wins and a record 1.49.4. A worthy son of Somebeachsomewhere, paid $260,000 as a yearling, his career was going nowhere until he ended up with Guy Corbeil. There, they cured his colic problems and waited patiently for the blossoming of his talent that no one thought was very big. And that is precisely what happened. With remarkable patience and skill, he was instilled with confidence and the results were evident.   Owner of the Year   Brian Paquet   Brian Paquet's history with horses goes back several decades. Breeder and owner, he has made his trademark, the Panics, a proud standard. Each year, a good half-dozen of the product of his breeding arrives in the races, often in the stable of his trusted man, Francis Richard. Who says breeding, says inexact science and Mr. Paquet faces the good as well as the less good with the phlegm that characterizes him. A golden owner, said Francis Richard. An owner who gives each horse the chance to show off.   Personality of the Year   Dominique Michel   The tragedy experienced this year by Dominique and her husband Daniel Martin is difficult to measure as the impact of this cardiovascular accident was significant and the consequences of which are still difficult to measure. This brave Dominic faced the storm with courage, resilience, sometimes stoicism. The appointment to this prestigious title, the leaders of the Quebec Jockey Club hope that it will serve as an encouragement for the future, because, one can imagine, the road of Dominique will be still difficult for the months to come. This appointment wishes to salute her immense courage which arouses the admiration of all horse people.   To watch the live video (in French), click here.    by Daniel Delisle, for the Quebec Jockey Club

Trois-Rivieres, QC - Over the years, the Quebec Jockey Club at the Hippodrome 3R has made a point of celebrating the retirement of certain harness racing horses who have reached the ripe old age of 14. This has always been done on closing day for the track, which is this Sunday, November 22. All Standardbred race horses must retire on January 1 at age 15. They are still allowed to race but only in amateur and fair events. But this year, the ceremony will take on a special significance for several reasons: Onyx VA, since it is about him that we are talking about, will have had during his life only one owner, André Larocque of Lourdes-De-Joliette. This horse raced at H3R for nine of the twelve years of his long and prolific career. It was at H3R that this career began an it is at H3R that it will end this Sunday, November 22. When we ask this charming gentleman, who is Andre Larocque, to share some of his memories with us, he becomes perplexed, not really knowing which elements, which races to choose: "In my lasting memories, Larocque said. "There is this race at Rideau Carleton in 2014 with Kyle Forgie in the sulky and a victory in the best class in 1:54.3 from 7th position; better still, his mile at H3R, the same year, this time with Stephane Brosseau, a victory in 1.53.4, from one end to the other after having torn the fronts away from DGs Woodstock in :27 seconds. "At 2 years old," Larocque explained. "He had a very fruitful year, successively winning three stakes (two Quebec Elite series, one Quebec Plus series) with Daniel Potvin on the guides. Daniel was my blacksmith at the time, and what a job he did with the colt. These were his three highest paying races in his career, twice for purses of $35,000, once for $25,000. The rest of his life he spent raising a thousand dollars here and there. Small grants in overnites. If you look at his record now, he took 293 starts and made just over $300,000, which works out to $1,000 per start. An iron horse, a clapper. " It was at the turn of the 2000s that André decided to try his luck in breeding, by acquiring a mare, Better Than Good, by The Big Dog. A mare who had never raced but whose family was full of big names: Die Laughing, Dexter Nukes, Silent Majority. This mare, bred to Artist Sena, first gave her Mamzele Leopold ($40,000 and a record 1.56), but the filly was plagued with conformation issues. The second breeding, this time with Electric Sena (Cam Fella), provided him with the colt that became Onyx VA. For the younger ones, know that Electric Sena in his day was quite a horse ($1.1M and a record of 1.48.3). "Then the mare didn't give much," Larocque added. "A few raced, some didn't. But Onyx VA was going to make people forget all that, he was so handsome, efficient and very intelligent. My role, week after week, was to find him a class that would do him justice. After the Quebec race tracks closed, I had no choice but to have him race in Ontario and he excelled on all kinds of tracks, in all kinds of conditions: Rideau, Flamboro, Grand River, London, Woodbine . He had some health problems, but never to prevent him from coming back to the track. He made me very happy, to say the least. "Sunday will be his last start, Larocque said. "I have no plans to go anywhere else next. This is where it all began and this is where it all ends. He will be entitled to a peaceful, deserved retirement. He has his stall, his paddock, his routine and he will now be at rest. For my part, I don't know what the future holds. "I am 69 years old, Larocque said. "And have had my fair share of health issues over the past few months. My hips make it difficult for me to move around, and it is no whim that I asked Claude Beausoleil to take on the role of trainer for the last few weeks. If ever my health allows me, I will not say no to a possible return with another horse. For the moment, my concerns are elsewhere. "I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank everyone who has helped me over the past twelve years with my horse," Larocque added. "There are stable neighbors, trainers, drivers, lots of people who made this 'trip' with Onyx VA possible. Thank you everyone from the heart." Onyx VA will start on Sunday, in the 7th race. This will be his 294th start. He has recorded 47 career victories. At the end of his race, Claude Beausoleil will lead him to the winner's circle for a small ceremony during which he will be placed a cooler blanket which will officially mark the end of his racing career. And with the 2nd starting position shared, it doesn't say that Onyx VA will be beaten. Track Notes: Racing fans can get a free race program for Sunday by visiting www.hippodrome3r.ca. First race post time Sunday is 1:00 pm. Simulcasting will continue seven days a week at H3R and all of its OTB outlets in Quebec. Also, on Sunday there are three Preferred events for the trotters and pacers. Francis Richard for the fourth straight year will take top honors as the leading trainer. The leading driver battle continues into Sunday with Pascal Berube (who is not driving Sunday) holds a four-win lead, 52 to 48, over Stephane Brosseau, who has eight drives on the program. By Daniel Delisle, for the Quebec Jockey Club

Trois-Rivieres, QC - The least that can be said is that harness racing owner and trainer Marc Lemay had a happy hand when he set his sights on the Spider Man Hanover at the end of June. Since then, the son of Western Ideal continues to impress and accumulate victories. But as it often happens, under appearances which seem without history, hide several tests to arrive at the current results. Northside Downs, Nova Scotia. A different place to look for a quality horse to race at the Hippodrome 3R. Let's listen to Marc Lemay. "We were at the start of the 2020 race season," Lemay explained. "And I was looking for a horse to race at H3R. I regularly checked the horses for sale on the Standardbred Canada (SC) website and a certain Spider Man Hanover caught my attention. I had already noticed the horse in 2019 while racing in Ontario. But Mr. Kennedy, the owner of Spider Man Hanover who had put it up for sale on SC, was asking too much money for me. At one point however, the horse was doing pretty badly and it was this gentleman who contacted me to see if I was still interested. At my price, I said yes! "The first thing we realized was that the horse was very 'hot';" Lemay said. "We have to make him train with a rope and just as he is perfect and pleasant in the stable, he almost goes crazy on the track. It was Pierre-Luc Roy, with his legendary calmness, who managed to understand him and calm him down a bit. "Then, in the daily routine of caring for Spider Man Hanover," Lemay added. "His caretaker, Mélanie Gaudreault, quietly discovered what worked best with him. It didn't happen overnight, but through trial and error she came to the conclusion that we don't harness him. We just tow him and he spends his days outside. "She (Melanie) also fixed several small problems common to crazy horses,"Lemay explained. "Such as breathing. In short, at the present time, the joint efforts of Melanie and Pierre-Luc were leading us to his current successes. And things are also going well with Stéphane (Gendron) his current driver since Pierre-Luc's retirement." When a horse bears the name Hanover, from America's most prestigious breeding farm, it is because the horse by conformation or lineage or both, is not an ordinary specimen. Spider Man Hanover took his first lessons from Brian Brown. In this stable as a two-year-old, he earned more than $220,000 and set a record of 1.51.3. The rest is less glorious and the horse passed through several stables, including Ron Burke's (this is where he made his mark at 1.50.3 as a three-year-old old) before arriving to Mr. Kennedy in Nova Scotia. Since joining Marc Lemay's team, he has already won six times and is currently on a three-race winning streak and will be one of the favorites for the sixth race pace on Friday at H3R with Stephane Gendron in the sulky. In two of his last three starts he led from the start in 1:57. Last week on a sloppy track he won again in 2:00.3. Spider Man Hanover (post 2) will be tested in the feature race as he faces other return winners Dreydl Hanover (post 7) for driver Samuel Fillion who last week wired the field in 1:55.4 and Requested (post 6), who also led from start to finish last week over the sloppy track in 2:01.1. Marc Lemay will also start in the first race Friday his maiden trotter, Muscles Forever. "He was in Jacques Beaudoin's stable at Rideau Carleton," Lemay said. "And I owned a part of him. As he was disappointing, I bought back the shares of the other co-owners. It's a mid-term project in my mind, say for the next season, except that he has surprised me pleasantly since I acquired him. "I see him as a pretty good potential," Lemay added. "And the few starts he has left at H3R will be a good indication of the trotter he could become. On October 16, he finished 3rd with a final quarter in 31.3 in a sea of mud. I am curious to see how he will develop." Despite the outside position, his morning odds are 3/1. Stephane Brosseau will pilot the three-year-old gelded son of Muscle Mass. This is the last Friday afternoon race program at H3R this season. First race post time is 1:00 pm. For a free race program, visit www.hippodrome3r.ca. By Daniel Delisle, for the Quebec Jockey Club      

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