Day At The Track

Stephane Bouchard returns to H3R after 20 years

05:58 AM 31 May 2017 NZST
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Stephanie Bouchard, harness racing
Stephane Bouchard
Photo courtesy Saratoga Raceway

TROIS-RIVIERES, Quebec - Harness racing driver Stephane Bouchard is heading back to his home province of Quebec this Sunday to compete in the second annual All-Star Drivers Tournament at the Hippodrome 3R.

He will be competing against top drivers David Miller, defending champion Jody Jamieson, H3R's leading driver Louis-Philippe Roy, Yannick Gingras, Daniel Dube, Sylvain Filion and Scott Zeron in eight tournament events.

It has been 20 years since Bouchard last drove in a race at the Hippodrome 3R and 17 years since he drove in a race in Quebec. He last drove the pacer Sandy Dodge to a third-place finish on October 11, 1997.

"Unfortunately, I do not remember that horse," Bouchard admitted, "but I have such good memories of driving at H3R and throughout Quebec, mainly at Blue Bonnets. A lot of good sire stakes horses back then, working for my mentor, J-P Gauthier, and then with Pierre Touchette.

"I am so grateful to have been invited for this tournament," Bouchard said. "and to be competing with such a great group of talented drivers. Getting to see these drivers, trainers and owners from the past it will feel like a class reunion."

Bouchard, 50, currently has 8,571 career wins and earning by the horses he has driven is over $75 million. Some of the major highlights of his career include winning the Yonkers Trot in 2008 with the great Napoleon. During that period, Bouchard was the leading driver at Yonkers Raceway five times.

Come this Sunday, one of the tournament race will be named "THE ALS DREAM FOR A CURE" in memory of Bouchard's son, Olivier Bouchard, who tragically passed away last year at age 26 from ALS.

"ALS is also called Lou Gehrig disease," Bouchard explained. "and it is a horrible disease with no discrimination and no cure yet. I asked track management and they are honoring my request to bring recognition to this disease.

"I have done ice bucket challenges to raise money and awareness," Bouchard said. "and other charity events for ALS and hopefully one day they will find a cure.

"My son was a very generous person," Bouchard added, "who cared about other people and never complained a lot about his condition, only dreaming for a cure until his last moments. My family will be at the track Sunday to be with me in the winner's circle for this special race."

As for going against these top drivers in the tournament, Bouchard has a simple game plan in mind.

"First, I need to say what an honor it is to be a participant in this tournament," Bouchard added, "and good luck to my fellow drivers. As for my tactics on the racetrack, it will be up to my horses. They will show me the way to the winner's circle!"

In closing, Bouchard wanted to add one more special comment.

"I was more of a driver at Blue Bonnet during my career in Quebec," Bouchard said, "but I do remember Yannick when he was a kid. I once put him in the dryer machine in the driver's room when he was around 10. Hopefully, Yannick won't hold that against me in the tournament."

From the Quebec Jockey Club

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