This Sunday marks the 40th and final live harness racing program of the 2017 season at Hippodrome 3R and it looks very positive for driver Stephane Brosseau and trainer Francis Richard to respectively win their first leading driver and trainer honours.
Brosseau, from L’Assomption, Que, has led the 3R driver colony throughout most of the season. He holds a 51 to 46 win lead over rival Stephane Gendron, and as many of us know all too well, you never know what can happen on closing day.
Gendron needs five wins to tie Brosseau, but in the tale of the tape, Brosseau has a very big edge. He has drives in nine of the ten races on program. Gendron has only seven drives. Brosseau is listed on four race favourites, Gendron just one. This title could well be decided before midway through the race card.
As for Francis Richard, it has been a breakthrough season for the 27-year-old from Becancour, Que. who has held a trainer’s license only since 2009. He holds a seven-win lead over Yves Tessier, 26 to 19. Tessier has four entered on Sunday, Richard has two entered and thus no way can Tessier catch Richard.
When he was just age 18, Francis Richard left Quebec to go Ontario to learn to become a trainer and learn he did working for David Menary, a dominant force on the WEG circuit. He stayed for five years and learned his trade well.
“I must credit the trust of the owners who have supported me,” Richard said. “Especially in the beginning as it was Brian Paquet who helped set the tone for my future. I owe Brian a lot, he really gave me my first chance, and still today, he supports me by sending me his young horses, it's a spinning wheel.
“I think because of my success with Brian Paquet, it helped also attract others owners and during the last year,” Richard added. “These people, each in their own way supported and have given me a chance.
"Every victory this season has its special meaning,” Richard continued. “All of them are important, from a victory at the Breeders' Cup Final to a 'maiden', these are all beautiful moments. I have a hard time separating all of this, and in this business, it's the win that counts the most and the progress of a particular horse.”
On the racetrack Sunday, Lucky Promesses -- the winningest horse this season at 3R -- will try for her 11th victory of the year with eight wins coming at her home track for owner, breeder, driver Jerome Lombart of Bromont.
The four-year-old mare by Lucky Fool starts from post two in the sixth race co-feature trot for trainer Andreane Lapierre and faces a tough task going against another top mare, Torches Angel (Stephane Brosseau) in post seven, who ships in off a 1:58 triumph at Rideau Carleton, along with Ice O Late (Sylvain Lacaille), a 1:59 winner last out.
In the co-featured eighth race pace there are two strong return winners who are conditioned by the top trainers this year.
Mister Big Top ships home from Rideau for trainer Yves Tessier after scoring a 1:56 triumph, his eighth victory of the year. He starts from post six for driver Stephane Gendron.
Trainer Francis Richard sends out Matts Phil from post three with Pierre Luc Roy in the sulky. Last week at 3R Matts Phil posted his seventh win of the year, wiring the field in 1:58.4.
Other contenders in the field include D Gs Machbeach (post one), return winner After Market (post two) and Arazi (post five).
In honour of the closing day of the race season the first 500 fans to come to the track will get a free race program. There will also be free drawings to win t-shirts and hockey tickets plus free coffee and hot chocolate and two-for-one hot dog specials.
First race post time Sunday is 12:30 pm. To view the entries for 3R's final live card of harness racing for 2017, click the following link: Sunday Entries - Hippodrome 3R.
(with files from the Quebec Jockey Club)