Nine is fine, but Richard Moreau admits a 10th consecutive O'Brien Award as Canadian Trainer of the Year would be especially meaningful.
"That would be like winning the gold, a special honour...knock on wood," said the Quebec native, who once again led the nation in wins (331) and purse money collected ($5.2 million) in 2022.
The latter figure was a career high for Moreau. The win total was just shy of his previous best, 340 in 2012. He led the trainer standings at three tracks — Woodbine Mohawk Park, Flamboro Downs and Georgian Downs.
Given the stats, he wasn't surprised to learn he was a finalist for top trainer in Canada for an 11th year in a row.
"Numbers talk," he said. "I'm just lucky to be surrounded by people who make me look good."
In addition to his earnings mark, Moreau also had a career highlight in 2022 with the victory of Gaines Hanover in the $810,000 Breeders Crown final for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings at Mohawk. Winning his first Breeders Crown "was an honour," Moreau said. "It didn't change my life, but it looks good on the resume."
Like his trainer, Gaines Hanover is an O'Brien Award finalist in his category. The son of Cantab Hall won four races, including a division of the Champlain Stakes at Mohawk, and amassed almost $500,000 in earnings.
"The remarkable thing about him was his maturity," Moreau said. "He was sent to me well prepared. He didn't make breaks. He knew his job."
Moreau also will be represented at the O'Briens by older trotter Fashion Frenzie, the divisional champion at three and a winner of seven races as a four-year-old, including the Earl Rowe Memorial at Georgian Downs.
They were the standouts of a hard-hitting, 60-horse Moreau squad that also featured premier older pacers Wheels On Fire and Jimmy Freight, who both collected more than $300,000 in Canada last year while in his stable.
Wheels On Fire, now eight, soon will surpass $1-million in earnings, which would be another feather in Moreau's cap.
Gaines Hanover and Fashion Frenzie have returned to their off-season conditioners in Quebec, with their 2023 campaigns still undetermined. (Moreau doesn't race in the U.S.)
While his decade of exceptional success in Canada has been gratifying, Moreau said the loss of his father Roland in December, at age 80, was a reminder there is more to life than work.
"I'm 58 and it's full-time right now, seven days a week, sometimes 60 calls and 30 texts a day. The next decade could be for enjoying life and what we've accomplished."
The O’Brien Awards Black Tie Gala is Canadian harness racing’s most prestigious event and Standardbred Canada is pleased to announce that the 2022 awards will be a ‘live’ event at the Hilton Mississauga/Meadowvale Hotel on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023.
(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Paul Delean; photos: New Image Media, Carter Gimblett)