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Trotter Making Memories For Dion

Published: January 25, 2017 10:57 am ET

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Trotter Flanagan Memory is doing wonders for trainer Rene Dion's trophy collection. In 2016, he added a Breeders Crown to the 2013 O'Brien Award for champion three-year-old trotter in Canada. Another O'Brien may join them soon, as Flanagan Memory is a finalist once again for champion older trotter of 2016 along with multiple-stakes winner Musical Rhythm. The winner will be announced at the annual Black Tie Gala on Saturday, Jan. 28 at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale Hotel in Mississauga, Ont.

"I like his chances but you never win until you cross the wire," said Dion. "We got to hear them call his name on the Island (the 2013 O'Brien Awards gala was held in Charlottetown, PEI) and it felt awfully good. You think of the people who helped you get there -- Michel (Flanagan, the Quebec-based breeder, a longtime owner and friend) and Pierre (Touchette, the trainer Dion worked for 25 years), both of who passed a few years before. I'm proud just to be nominated. Awards like that don't come around too often."

Jody Jamieson (centre) makes the 2013 O'Brien Award presentation to the connections of Flanagan Memory, Liette Flanagan (right of Jody) and Rene Dion (far left). Joining them on stage are Suzie Kerwood and Patrick Hanigan. (SC/Gail MacDonald)

Neither do horses like Flanagan Memory.

Bred by Michel Flanagan and co-owned now by his daughter Liette in partnership with Dion, the seven-year-old son of Kadabra has been racing with distinction since age two, and to date has accumulated almost $1.6 million in purses, of which $663,000 came last year.

For a low-profile trainer with a 10-horse string, he's been the engine. "He makes all the hours and miles worth it, because it's a lot of both," Dion said.

The Breeders Crown victory over Resolve was the highlight of 2016 for the trainer -- "it all came together there" -- but Flanagan Memory's third-place finish to Resolve in the International Trot, after a parked-out trip, wasn't far behind.

"His only mistake in 14 starts last year came in his first race, when he got a little rough and made a break going into the first turn,"' Dion said. "After that, racing against top competition, he had an excellent year. Each year, he's achieved something great. We're hoping for more in 2017. He's back on the track and looks very good but you won't see him as early in the season. He's older now, so we're going to take our time getting him back."

For a full list of 2016 O'Brien Award finalists, click here. For details about the Black Tie Gala, click here.

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Paul Delean)

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