By his own admission, with a stable made up mainly of young horses, it is quite rare that trainer Francis Richard is so active so early in the season.
The situation in 2021 is a little different since he currently has in his stable a few older horses that meet the conditions well, especially in the so-called feature events. This is the case in this second harness racing program of the young season at the Hippodrome 3R Friday (3:00 p.m.) afternoon with three starters, three from the eighth position.
What to do with the 8th position?
It is well known that the eighth position on a half-mile track like H3R is quite a challenge. Yes, sometimes horses darting from 8th position win, but especially in lower classes. From the first program of the season last week, Diamond Rock, Lise Carbonneau's horse from trainer Pierre Leclerc, with Pascal Bérubé at the controls, demonstrated this. But it was a class of non-winners of a race.
For Richard, winning the lead is no easy task: "The mare Topsill Beach won last week but she enjoyed a nice mile,” Francis said. “An ultra-fast first half helped her. I thought the best mare in this group was Daniel St-Pierre's mare, Arrhythmogenic. My mare, whom I claimed on the last day of racing in Mohawk, had qualified well but I would not have thought she would have won. We'll see this week.”
First starts to boot
According to Richard, what does not help in addition to being handicapped by the post eight is that his two other starters on Friday, Dreydl Hanover and 2020 Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroot champ Profound Paragon will be in their first start in a long time:
"We must not forget that the mare of my good friend Jean-Bernard Renaud,” Richard explained. “Before her qualification on April 1, she had not raced since October. That's a long time. Jean-Bernard is a good friend of mine, so when he saw that we were racing at 3R, we started to think that maybe some of his horses could do well here.
"I moderate my expectations,” Richard added. “However, since, yes, the mare has earned a lot of money in 2020 as a three-year-old; this time, she faces some pretty tough elderly experienced horses. As for Dreydl Hanover, I've only had him a few days. This is for me the first horse for the owner François Morin. He qualified well, that's all I can say at the moment. In all three cases, it will be a good challenge, no doubt!”
Two days of racing this week
The race office at 3R pulled off a miracle this weekend. Remember that the final decision to add racing on Friday came only on Tuesday and the next day, the race office came alive to fill two programs, the one on Friday and the one on Sunday. One thing is to have horses in numbers, another that of being able to classify them in races that do them justice.
Among the things that can be seen on this second 3R race program on Friday, we highlight in broad strokes a few facts: the professional debut of Jessica Turenne, who has passed her 10 qualifying lines in record time. According to Manon Gravel, who can be trusted when it comes to such statistics, it is very rare for a rookie, male or female, to pass their 10 races without missing a single one. At best, we try a dozen times to succeed ten, but Jessica, the daughter of Serge Turenne and Linda Bélanger, did it perfectly. Jessica will drive her Angelo Benjo in the third race.
Stéphane Brosseau will have a busy afternoon as he will be at work in all 10 races. One more testimony, if one were needed, of his great popularity to the trainers. Pascal Bérubé and Samuel Fillion followed with seven drives each.
A word of advice to punters: Guy Gagnon was relatively quiet at 3R on May 7, but he could be much more visible this week.
Post time Friday is 3:00 p.m. and Sunday at 12:30 p.m. For more information and a free race program, visit hippodrome3r.ca. To view the entries for the weekend cards, click the following link: Entries - Hippodrome 3R.
(with files from the Quebec Jockey Club)