Blais Reflects On A Strong 2019
Trotting mare Emoticon Hanover`s upset win over Atlanta in the $175,000 TVG final at the Meadowlands Racetrack on the weekend was a fitting finale to what has been a year of milestones for Ontario-based trainer Luc Blais.
“The winter isn’t as long when you finish like that,” said Blais, 57.
Emoticon Hanover's victory made the six-year-old Kadabra mare Blais’ first $2-million winner and also provided Blais with the 1,000th training victory of his career.
Blais also added another millionaire to his resume in 2019: three-year-old Kadabra colt Forbidden Trade, who lit up the Meadowlands in August by winning a first Hambletonian for Blais and the stable that employs him, Determination of Montreal.
Forbidden Trade joined Emoticon Hanover and Intimidate on Blais’ list of millionaires, but is the first to have topped $1 million in earnings in a single season.
He helped propel the stable past $2.5 million, a new high for Blais, who started training for Determination seven years ago and has topped the $2-million mark for four consecutive years.
“It’s been a good year,” said Blais. “Things started a bit slowly, but it got better and the horses stayed healthy. The Hambletonian clearly was the thrill of the year, but every race won by horses you picked out at the sales, broke and developed gives you a special feeling. They’ve all got a story.”
Forbidden Trade, pictured capturing the 2019 Hambletonian.
“You also need luck,” said Blais, who didn’t have much this year at the Breeders Crown, as his four starters collectively drew Post 8 twice and 10 twice for the lucrative finals at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Emoticon Hanover, who started from Post 10, was the only Blais trainee to hit the board.
Forbidden Trade will be back next year, and so will two-year-old trotter Port Perry, who contributed almost $300,000 in earnings and was one of the standouts on the Ontario Sires Stakes circuit this season. Eighteen yearlings, including two homebreds, will provide the stable with new blood for next year.
Emoticon Hanover, pictured defeating Atlanta in the 2019 TVG Mare Trot final.
As for Emoticon Hanover, Canada`s champion trotting mare of 2018, “we don’t know yet,” said Blais. She’ll be seven next year, but still is a force to be reckoned with, especially in the fall. She’s won the last two TVG finals for mares and was runner-up to Manchego in the Breeders Crown after having won in 2017 and 2018.
(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Paul Delean)