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Trois-Rivieres, QC - They are the only racetrack in Canada that will be open for racing when the Hippodrome 3R (H3R) kicks-off their 2021 harness racing season on Friday (May 7). With a special post time of 5:30 pm, H3R will feature a ten-race program with full fields of eight starters in all races, including three Preferred Class events. Heading the driver's colony is return champion Pascal Berube, who narrowly held on to his lead closing day last November, edging Stephen Brosseau by one win, 52 to 51. Brosseau is back opening day along with Stephane Gendron, Guy Gagnon, Francis Picard, Samuel Fillion and Richard Simard. "It's always fun to be successful on the track, Berube said. "And it's my first goal when I'm on the sulky. So, as far as winning the driver's title again, if I'm first in the standings it's great, but otherwise I just want to live up to myself and do my best. "I currently have 6 horses in the stable," Berube added. "And three of them are new horses. I really hope they will live up to our expectations as these are several new owners and I would like for them to enjoy their first experience as owners." Berube has become a popular catch-driver both at H3R and at Rideau Carleton. He has drives in nine of the ten races on the card. On the training side, Francis Richard is the top dog and is going for his fifth straight training title at H3R. Last year he won the title by 11 wins, 33 to 22 over Maxime Velaye. "We are ready of course for the new race season at H3R, Richard said. "I really am looking forward to seeing my trotter that I co-own, Fashion Frenzie. Him, along with a Bettor's Delight colt I co-own named Twin B Powerball, are under the good care of trainer Richard Moreau." Last season at age two, Fashion Frenzie (Archangel) won five of seven starts and $154,000 on the Ontario Sire Stakes Circuit with a record of 1:55.1. He is the pride and joy of the Richard Stable. Other top trainers returning for the 2021 at H3R are Marc-Andre Simoneau, Michel Allard, Denitza Petrova, Charles Gaudreault and Carl Duguay. After Friday's special opening day program, H3R will return to racing on Sunday's, starting May 16, with post time at 12:30 pm. Friday racing resumes June 11 with post time at 4:00 pm. Program Pages are available for the Friday card, courtesy of TrackIt, at this link. For more information, visit www.hippodrome3R.ca. From the Quebec Jockey Club  

Trois-Rivieres, QC - After hosting 17 qualifying races over the past week (Wednesday and Saturday) there should be an ample amount of harness racing horses ready to drop in the draw box at the Hippodrome 3R. The first draw of the 2021 season at H3R will take place on Monday, May 3. Entries must be submitted by 11 am. "I think we will be in very good shape for our first draw," said Murielle Thomassin, director of racing at H3R. "We are planning on having at least ten races on opening day next Friday." Opening Day at H3R is set for Friday, May 7 with first race post time at 5:30 pm. After the Friday card, the next live race day will be Sunday, May 16 at 1:00 pm. Thomassin explained why H3R is starting off the season on a Friday, mainly because of a lack of racing in Canada. "There is no doubt about being one of the few racetracks to be running races right now," Thomassin continued. "We have the approval of Public Health, we have the approval of the Quebec Racing Commission, so why not proceed? I honestly think we'll have more than enough horses to at least do a program on Friday and we'll see what happens next. "Let's think about it," Thomassin said. "There are thousands of fans in Canada who are looking forward to getting back to their favourite pastime and fate has it that we are pretty much one of the only ones in the country to run races. That's for sure we'll look carefully at the mutual wagering for this first program and then see how our schedule goes." Saturday featured 11 qualifying races and the star of the day was trainer-driver Marie Claude Auger, who drove three winners on card, including the fastest winner of the day, Big Petes Smile, In the sixth race pace, Auger left with Big Petes Smile from post five. The nine-year-old gelding by Jeremie's Jet held the field at bay from the start, stopping the teletimer in 1:59.4 and winning by four open lengths. Also on the racetrack was the 2020 Trotting Filly of the Year at H3R, Kinnder High Class, who won 10 of 13 starts last season for owner-breeder-trainer Denitza Petrova. She finished a fast closing third as the race was won by Marie Claude Auger with Franks Angel in 2:03.2. Anything else special on Murielle Thomassin's wish list for this season at the Hippodrome 3R? "Oh yes," Thomassin said. "I want the racing fans back in the stands again. I hope this pandemic will get under control so that we can have spectators back at H3R. I miss hearing the cheering crowd when the horses come down the stretch to the finish." For more information, visit www.hippodrome3r.ca. From the Quebec Jockey Club    

Trois-Rivieres, QC - The Quebec Jockey Club announced today (April 30) that the Hippodrome 3R will begin its 2021 harness racing season next Friday, May 7. Post time for the special opening day card will be 5:30 pm. No spectators will be allowed to come to the track. Covid protocols, the same as last season with no positive tests, will be enforced with all horse people and employees. After the opening day Friday program, the Hippodrome 3R will return to its normal racing calendar with the next live date on Sunday, May 16 with post time at 1:00 pm. Friday racing will resume on June 11. The race meet will run through Sunday, November 7 for the 40-day season. This Saturday morning the Hippodrome 3R will host 11 qualifying races starting at 11 am. The races will be live streamed on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Hippodrome3R with race calls by track announcer Guy Lafontaine. The race entries are available at www.standardbredcanada.ca/racing. For more information and the full racing calendar for the Hippodrome 3R, visit www.hippodrome3r.com. From the Quebec Jockey Club    

Trois-Rivieres, QC - On Wednesday morning, the Quebec Jockey Club will feature the first day of the harness racing qualifying races at the Hippodrome 3R livestream on Facebook. The qualifying race will begin at 11:00 am and the races will feature live race calls from track announcer Guy Lafontaine. To watch the live qualifiers, click here. The Hippodrome 3R's top drivers will be in attendance including Stephen Brosseau, Pascal Berube, Richard Simard, Samuel Fillion, Sylvain Lacaille and Marc Belanger. From the Quebec Jockey Club    

Trois-Rivieres, QC - Late Monday afternoon the Quebec Jockey Club received word from the Quebec Health Ministry that harness racing can resume at the Hippodrome 3R. Track officials were scrambling to get qualifying races set for Wednesday and Saturday. Official word on when the track will open for live racing will be decided shortly. There will no spectators allowed for live racing or qualifiers. "We are so pleased that we can start racing again," said Murielle Thomassin, director of racing at the Hippodrome 3R. "Now we have to make sure we have enough horses qualified to fill the opening day card and we will be back in business. "As soon as we have worked out a date for opening day," Thomassin added. "We will of course let everyone know. It's exciting that we can race again but a lot of work now has to be done before opening day." For more information, visit www.hippodrome3r.ca. From the Quebec Jockey Club      

Trois-Rivieres, QC - The Quebec Jockey Club was again forced to cancel holding qualifying races at the Hippodrome 3R because of the pandemic. The Quebec Ministry of Health has yet to approve the return of live racing. The Hippodrome 3R is scheduled to open on Sunday, May 2. "We are trying our best," said Claude Levesque, president of the Quebec Jockey Club. "Murielle Thomassin heads our group that is constantly pressuring the government to allow us to start racing again. "During our race meet last year we did not have one case of Covid," Levesque added. "We did all the proper protocols with our horse people and it worked. We should be able to open for racing." Director of Racing at the Hippodrome 3R, Murielle Thomassin, is optimistic that racing will return for opening day. "We are not postponing open day," Thomassin said. "We are continuing to talk with health officials both locally and in the province and are hopeful they will give us permission to race for next week's scheduled qualifying races. "If we can hold qualifiers next week," Thomassin added. "We will have enough horses ready to race on May 2." For more information, visit www.hippodrome3r.ca. From the Quebec Jockey Club      

Trois-Rivieres, QC - Management at the Quebec Jockey Club has announced that the harness racing qualifiers scheduled for Saturday, April 10 have been cancelled at the Hippodrome 3R. "We have not yet received permission from the Quebec government to start racing due to Covid-19," said Director of Racing Murielle Thomassin. "Fortunately, we scheduled three weeks of qualifying racing in April, just in case we could not get underway this weekend." The Hippodrome 3R is scheduled to start its 2021 racing season on Sunday, May 2. "We are hopeful that we will get permission to race soon," Thomassin added. "We raced last year from June to November without any Covid cases. We have all the protocols in place again for this year. For more information, visit www.hippodrome3r.ca. From the Quebec Jockey Club    

Harness racing driver Pierre-Luc Roy, the older brother of O'Brien award winning driver, Louis-Philippe Roy, had important life choices to make last fall with the arrival of a second child. He chose to prioritize his small family and, to the surprise of many fans and colleagues, he stopped racing horses on September 27, the day of the Quebec finals at the Hippodrome 3R for 2 and 3 years. A choice with which he lives well with. However, things have changed since then, and he is now looking forward to taking over the lines again. Roy had a good season in 2020, by his standards of recent years, with monetary gains of almost $170,000, almost thirty victories and all with fewer starts than in previous years, because of his decision to stop racing. The statistic that will be remembered above all was his URS (batting average) at .317, the third best at H3R for drivers who have worked in at least 100 races. "I am all the more proud of this average," Roy explained. "As it was achieved without the contribution of the Quebec Regional Fair Circuit. In the past years, I often drove on the fair circuit, especially in Gaspesie, it helped me in my statistics. In 2020, the average is excellent, and without the input of racing at the fairs." "In 2020, I also had the honour of driving the horses of trainer Denitza Petrova," Roy said. "It was a big plus in my statistics. This allowed me to win two finals on September 27, one with Kinnder High Class, the other with Kinnder Dangerzone. It's really nice to drive for Denitza. "We kept in touch during the winter," Roy added. "She kept me up to date on new births, progress in training, etc. I obviously wish I had the chance to keep driving for her last season." With his wife Maude Larouche, Pierre-Luc has been working for a few years now to raise their own foals. They currently have four broodmares on their farms and the first concrete results may well come this year. "It's a lot of work," Roy said. "But it's a way for me to stay in touch with the horses, without taking hours and hours of training. Maude does most of the work, and I'll throw my hat off to her. It's still nine heads that you have to take care of seven days a week." Roy has the mare Norvena Hanover (Western Ideal) and her two-year-old is training in Ontario with brother Louis-Philippe. It's a Sunshine Beach and it's going very well and according to Pierre-Luc, it's already rendered in 2.28. A second mare is Sheissuchadream (Art Major), and she also has a foal by Sunshine Beach and her progress is a little slower. This mare also had in 2020 a filly by Bettorthancheddar. The third mare is Signet (Sportswriter) and she has just given birth to a filly by Shadow Play. The 4th mare is JK Soundofmusic (Bettors Delight ) has just brooded by Jimmy Freight. It is owned by brother Louis-Philippe. Talking to Pierre-Luc, we see that all facets of the horseman trade interest in him. All facets of his 'father's job too. Like many young households, work-family-leisure balance is part of his daily life. Well supported by his wife, happy in his role as the breeder of two 2-year-olds in training, he looks forward to the coming season with optimism. A discreet optimism, like the man, a true gentleman. By Daniel Delisle, for the Quebec Jockey Club

Trois-Rivieres, QC - The return of harness racing to the province of Quebec is just around the corner as the Hippodrome 3R will begin with qualifying races in April leading towards opening day on Sunday, May 2. "I think we are in good shape to start on May 2," Said H3R Racing Director Murielle Thomassin. "Everything looks to be on schedule. "We have already applied to the Quebec government to allow us to start the races," Thomassin said. "Right now, all our OTB's (Off-Track Betting) are still closed since October because of Covid-19. We were able to race last season without spectators and I am sure that is the way we will have to start this season too." Also, a big problem the track faces is snow. "All the snow has been removed from the track since last week," Thomassin explained. "All we need is for the track to dry now. Then again, the forecast for this weekend is more snow and rain, but we are ready to handle it. Our track crew is very good." Provided Mother Nature cooperates to some degree, H3R will try and offer horse people the opportunity to qualify three times before the start of the pari-mutuel race season. Those tentative dates (weather permitting) are April 10, 17 and 24, all Saturdays. For a complete calendar of race dates and qualifiers, click here. Throughout the season that goes until Sunday, November 7, H3R will race every Sunday, post time 12.30 pm and on Fridays from June 11 through August 27, post time at 4:00 pm. In June the stakes races in Quebec will begin to take place for the two and three-year-old trotters and pacers. Both the Breeders Trophy Series (3YO's) and Future Stars Series (2YO's) will have three preliminary legs followed by a final for the top eight-point earners. All eight of the finals will be held on Sunday, September 12. This is the richest day of racing in all of Quebec with more than $500,000 in purses. The Quebec-Bred Series for the older trotters and pacers was not held last year but is hopeful to return in 2021. "It could happen this year," Thomassin explained. "The Quebec Jockey Club (QJC) board will decide on that after our season gets underway. If we can again have spectators for the races, if the ban is lifted and we can reopen our OTB's, if our handle is better, and it was great last year thanks to HPI, I am positive they will bring back the series. "I think with most everyone scheduled to have had at least one vaccination shot by June 24 in Quebec," Thomassin stated. "We now can see a little light at the end of the tunnel. We might even be able to have racing fans in the stands again, which would be the best." In 2020, die-hard H3R fans would drive to the backstretch of the track and park their cars near the fence so they could watch the races live. "We made sure we had the outside speakers on last season," Thomassin laughed. "So that those fans in the backstretch area could hear Guy Lafontaine's race calls. I recently got a phone call from one fan who asked if they could come back for the races this year. When I told him not yet, he said that was OK as he would just drive to the backstretch and watch." For more information about the upcoming harness racing season at H3R, click here. From the Quebec Jockey Club  

It is harness racing driver Louis-Philippe Roy who expresses himself in near disbelief after it has been pointed out in recent days, the fact that his mounts have earned him to date the sum of $25 million. "I had absolutely no idea of this statistic," Roy explained. "It was the leaders of Woodbine (Mohawk) who discovered and pointed it out. It's nice, but it's a step and I hope there will be more! " Long road ahead Considering that LPR's career began very modestly on the Quebec Regional Fair Circuit in 2008, it is a long road, literally and figuratively, that the native of Mont-Joli has travelled. And of the $25M earned, the six years of driving exclusively on the Regional Circuit counted for $44,000 of the $25M! But as he himself says with his usual humility, you have to walk well before you run! "Today, at the age of 31, I aspire above all to a more stable life," Roy recently said. "When I go back in my head all these years of moving, first to Gaspesie, then from Gaspesie to Trois-Rivieres, then to Rideau, then finally to the Toronto area, it's a lot of hours on the road, by car, in all weathers. I'm not saying no to moving at some point with a horse from the Grand Circuit, but that's not my current stage. I aspire to a quieter life, to come home (Guelph) with the person who shares my life." "I am very attracted to young horses, foals and 2- and 3-year-old fillies," Roy said. "I love working with these kind of couriers. That's kind of what pushed me to quietly detach myself from Richard (Moreau), who owns a stable more focused on condition horses and claimers. Of course, by making this choice I win fewer races, I make less money, but my current priority is elsewhere. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with and for Richard. What an accomplished horseman! But it was a conscious choice and I live well with my decisions." The Roy Stable Many racing fans may not know it, but our man has also become a man of horses in recent years. Or could we say, once again a complete horseman who spends his time with young horses. "Some time ago," Roy explained. "I sent the foals and fillies that I bought to my good friend Chantal Mitchell. They were there and I was completely deferring to her and her team. Things have changed. Currently, I train eight horses: six 2 year-olds and two 3 year-olds that I bring back this year. I obviously can't do all this work on my own, so I hired Eric Nadeau. We are both there in the morning at the stable and I can count on him and his background of experiences gleaned here and there." "I love this life," Roy said. "It's closer to what I wanted to do. And that doesn't stop me from driving at night and with Eric, I can rely on someone who is serious and hard-working. It's very stimulating with young horses: we try, we make mistakes, we learn, we rejoice in success. It is also one of the attractions of driving for other trainers, young horses. When you disembark the sulky after a race, you don't just hand over the lines. We discuss and I give my point of view to the trainer for the development of his protege." On the way to other heights No doubt in the minds of the people who have followed Louis-Philippe's career since his beginnings. This stage, carried out last week to the guides of a protégé of Jean Tourigny, is just one more step towards other summits. With the talent he possesses, and seriousness, he will continue to shine on Canada's largest racing circuit, and will stand out. That is what we wish him for 2021. By Daniel Delisle, for the Quebec Jockey Club

Talking to Quebec harness racing owner, breeder, trainer and driver, Guy Corbeil, is a rewarding experience because this man has his principles, his views, his ways of doing things, his philosophy. So, it is not surprising that when we discuss with him the subject of the super horse that is Enavant, he is not asked to give us the feelings that inhabit him. Enavant, now five, is sired by Somebeachsomewhere from the Western Ideal mare, Lady Be Great. Unraced until age four, Enavant closed out his undefeated 11 for 11 season last September, taking a lifetime mark of 1 :49.4 at Woodbine Mohawk Raceway. He was the winningest horse of the year at the Hippodrome 3R with seven straight wins before heading to Ontario. Guy Corbeil co-owns Enavant with Determination Stable. He is an easy horse "Now he (Enavant) is an exceptional horse in many ways," Corbeil stated. "His personality makes it possible to saddle and ride him, which some of my employees have done so far. It requires a minimum of maintenance. Think about it; he wears no bandages, no boot of any kind, because with him, everything is not big enough, or long enough. Currently the obstacles it carries are at its maximum. In short, the individual, the horse himself, is a kind of phenomenon. "It doesn't guarantee anything, "Corbeil added. "I've learned over the years with horses that things can change quickly. Today, everything's fine, tomorrow, we don't know. You have to be humble, keep your head cool and your feet are screwed to the ground. A necessary form of realism. I don't like to ignite. If Enavant earns $50,000 in 2021, that'll be okay. If he can race with the best and stand out, that's okay too. I'm lucky to have got my hands on such a horse, I certainly could not afford to pay for him at auction ($260,000) as a yearling. For 2021, we've paid a lot of stakes already and he'll race at that level if he can prove himself. Otherwise, it'll be okay as well. I'd love to see him race at The Meadowlands on Hambo Day. It would be for me the realization of an old dream. But maybe it won't happen. » Preparation "Right now he is in the works, " Corbeil said about Enavant. "Will he be ready in June? In July or August? He'll tell me. There is no pressure on it. When Max (Velaye) tells me we're late, I often take it back to tell him, no, Max, we're not late, we're just later! It's the horse that dictates the pace. The only decision that has been made so far is that at some point he will qualify. What happens next? I don't really know. I'm into horses to have fun. "When I stopped him last fall, many people were telling me why stop a horse that is 11 in 11? I didn't want him to start the 2021 season in the best class. I wanted at that time and I still want him to start at a lower level, such as non-winners of $50,000 for life. He's entitled to it. If I had kept him racing, he wouldn't have been allowed to. He currently has $46,950 in the bank. It'll make it a less rigorous start." Racing Enavant at H3R "In an ideal world," Corbeil explained. "I would always like my horses to race in Trois-Rivieres. I'm never in a hurry to go anywhere else and I only go if the horses can't make it home. We train several horses on the farm: sometimes I think it's too much. But hey, it's now March, the winter hasn't been too hard and spring will come soon with the adrenaline of seeing the foals we're preparing, on the track and having success. It's a beautiful time of year. "For "E" now it's time that will tell us if he's a champion or if he's capped and will just be a good horse," Corbeil added. "If that's what happens, it's going to be, period! No one will die from it and the sun will still rise the next day." For racing enthusiasts in Quebec, it's easy to imagine that it will be interesting if Enavant continues to develop as a champion. We wish it to Guy Corbeil, his team, and to us finally, because it makes us live a beautiful 'trip'. By Daniel Delisle, for the Quebec Jockey Club    

Trois-Rivieres, QC - The 2021 Prix d'Ete Grand Circuit race normally held in August at the Hippodrome 3R racetrack in Quebec, has been canceled for 2021. The Quebec Jockey Club made the announcement today, citing that due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of being able to have spectators at the racetrack starting this fall, it was in the best interest to cancel the race for 2021. The race was also cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. "Preparing for such a big event in these difficult times is unrealistic," said Murielle Thomassin, Director of Racing at H3R. "But I am confident next year will be brighter and a much different story." One of the richest races in North America restricted to just four-year-old's, the Prix d'Ete dates back to 1966 at Blue Bonnets Raceway in Montreal. Over the years many world champions won the prestigious race. The stakes race ended when Blue Bonnets closed in 1992 and was revived by the Quebec Jockey Club in 2014. The Hippodrome 3R is scheduled to start the 2021 harness racing meet on Sunday, May 2. For more information, visit www.hippodrome3r.ca. From the Quebec Jockey Club  

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 - On Saturday evening (Nov. 28) at 7:00 pm the annual Gala des Champions awards presentations for the 2020 harness racing season in Quebec will take place with a virtual show on Facebook Live Hippodrome 3R page. It is this evening that racing fans will be able to attend the special edition of the Gala des Champions, pandemic obliged. Obviously, not a big gathering, not even a simple gathering, but a celebration that aims to unite everyone, amateurs or professionals of the industry, in front of their computer screens with track announcer Guy Lafontaine being the host of the show. Setting up such an organization in a time of a pandemic has not been easy. Ms. Murielle Thomassin, Director of Racing at H3R, has already been working on this project for several weeks, assisted by the technical team at the racecourse. "With the season being so special in so many ways," Thomassin explained. "I wanted to be sure to recognize the most deserving achievements among our horse people in the industry. It was important for me, for the Quebec Jockey Club as well, to show our admiration and gratitude to all these people." Inspired by what is happening at the O'Brien Awards by Standardbred Canada, H3R took up the formula. A committee of people close to the racing show presented this year, selected names for each of the nine categories. Here are the nominees in each category. Trainer of the Year Francis Richard Maxime Velaye Driver of the Year Pascal Berube Stephane Brosseau Rookie of the year Samuel Fillion Steven Gagnon Caretaker of the Year Dominique Michel Wendy St-Pierre Breeder of the year Claude Hamel Denitza Petrova Trotter of the Year Kinnder High Class 10 (7-1-1) $ 52,933, record 1.58.1 Denitza Petrova stable Precious CC 10 (1-2-1) $ 8,313, 1.57.3 (as of November 1) Claude Beausoleil stable Pacer of the year Forward 7 (7-0-0) $ 11,950 1.54.3 Determination Stable - Guy Corbeil Coach: Maxime Velaye Driver: Stephane Gendron Mickeymaksomespeed 11 (7-0-0) $ 18,999 1.54.3 (as of November 1) Michel Allard stable Coach: Michel Allard Driver: Steeven Genois Owner of the year Brian Paquet Denitza Petrova The Gala de Champions starts promptly at 7 pm Saturday evening and can be viewed live on the Hippodrome 3R Facebook Page. By Daniel Delisle, for the Quebec Jockey Club

Trois-Rivieres, QC - Harness racing driver Pascal Berube had held the lead for most wins at the Hippodrome 3R nearly the entire race season starting in June. Berube recently moved his stable to Toronto and could not be at H3R on Sunday, closing day, to defend his lead. He was up by four wins over Stephane Brosseau going into Sunday's final card. And Brosseau made a great challenge, winning three races and just needing a victory with Bali in the eighth race pace, but it was not to be as they were boxed in most of the race and finished third. Thus, without having to drive at all, Pascal Berube won the driving title, 52 to 51 over Stephane Brosseau. "I wish I could have been at H3R today," Berube said. "It is a beautiful track that I hold dear in my heart. But I am very happy to hear this news." As for the training title, that went to Francis Richard for the fourth straight year. He had 33 wins from his stable this season. Maracasso was able to survive two major challenges and still hang tough in winning the fifth race Preferred-Handicapped Pace for the older horses. Farmers Tan (Carol Voyer) was the first on the early lead but was challenged early by Maracasso and driver Stephane Gendron, who pressed on to take command in a swift :26.2 first quarter. There was no chance for a breather as Maracasso led the field to the half mile in :55.3 and then Wrangler Cash and driver Francis Picard came first-over to challenge. In the backstretch those two battled neck and neck to the three-quarters in 1:25.2 with neither horse giving way. Then after the final turn and starting down the stretch, Maracasso proved to be much the best, fending off Wranglers Cash in the stretch to win by one and one-quarter lengths in 1:56. Dreydl Hanover (Samuel Fillion) was a fast closing third. It was the fourth win of the year for Maracasso, an eight-year-old gelding by Lis Mara. He is trained by Sylvain Tremblay for the Alpha Stable of Metabetchouan. He paid $10.60 to win. The third race Preferred-Handicapped Trot saw Sir Chopin and owner-trainer-driver Carol Voyer of Kenogami make it two straight wins in the top trotting class. Keepall (Stephane Gendron) cut the mile from the start with Precieuse CC (Claude Beausoleil) sitting the pocket seat until the half mile. Then Sir Chopin and Voyer came first-over, collaring Keepall in the backstretch and then by the three-quarters took the lead and never looked back. At the top of the stretch Sir Chopin pulled away from the field to win with ease by five and one-half lengths in 1:59.1. Dr Spengler (Stephane Brosseau) closed for second place with Eau Naturelle (Simon Delisle) third. A five-year-old gelded son of Lucky Fool, it was the third win this year for Sir Chopin, who paid $7.00 to win. The biggest upset of the day came in the sixth race Preferred-Handicap race for the Fillies and Mares. It was a three-horse battle for early control of the lead between Fancy Girl (Francis Picard), Shemaksmefelunreal (Sylvain Lacaille) and race favorite Wild River Swan (Samuel Filion) to the opening quarter mile in :27.2. Wild River Swan won the battle and cut the mile to the half in :57.1 when Sophies Cam and driver Stephane Brosseau started up first-over with Y C Easy (Steeven Genois) second-over. Then in the backstretch, Sophies Cam charged right by Wild River Swan as did Y C Easy to the three-quarters in 1:27.1. From there Sophies Cam drew off from the field and won with ease by one and a half lengths in 1:57.4. Kiss Me Bad (Steven Gagnon) closed to be second with Y C Easy third. Sent off at odds of 9-1, Sophies Cam returned a generous $21.90 to win. It was the daughter of Yankee Cam's seventh win of the year for trainer Carl Duguay and owner-breeder Yvanhoe Landry of Carleton-Sur-Mer. Then in the seventh race pace, the 14-year-old Onyx VA gave it his all for trainer-driver Claude Beausoleil, cutting the mile and parking out race favorite Soleil Gretzky (Stephane Brosseau) until the stretch as Soleil Gretzky ($2.80) won in 1:58.3 and Onyx VA faded to fourth place. After the race, in a fitting tribute, all of the racing equipment was removed from Onyx VA in the winner's circle and then the horse was presented a special retirement blanket from the staff of the Quebec Jockey Club. Owned his entire race career by Andre Larcoque of Lourdes-De-Joliette, Onyx VA, sired by Electric Stena, will now enjoy a life of luxury in his retirement. He ends his career with 47 lifetime wins and earnings of more than $300,000. Track Notes: Stephane Brosseau led all drivers with three wins on the day. Carl Duguay led all trainers with a double. This was the final day of live racing at H3R for the 2020 season. The track and OTB outlets throughout Quebec will be open seven days a week for simulcasting through the winter. For more information, visit www.hippodrome3R.ca. From 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

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