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The End Of The Line For St. Lad's

Published: December 5, 2021 11:59 am ET

Last Comment: December 6, 2021 12:32 pm ET | 3 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

After 40 years of operation, St. Lad's Farm is no more.

Bob Ladouceur told Trot Insider that the 75-acre farm, located east of Windsor and north of Leamington just outside of Ruscom Station, Ont., has been sold and will no longer operate as a breeeding farm and turn-out facility.

The 78-year-old Ladouceur didn't enter the Standardbred industry in a typical fashion. After graduating from the University of Windsor with a business degree, Ladouceur worked for a decade as a tax analyst with Hiram Walker. He then transitioned to ownership of a local Home Hardware and Home Furniture store while owning a farm with riding and show horses. He eventually switched from Morgans to Standardbreds, while expanding to serve as a boarding station for other owners in the area.

"In 2019, I owned 19 of my own broodmares," said Ladouceur. "We had maybe 35, 38 broodmares on the farm. Around the 2012 cancellation of slots-at-racetracks program, I had about 140 horses on the farm. I had a bunch of Michigan and Ohio owners. Then that's when they started dwindling."

Activity in the area has certainly decreased in the last decade, with Windsor Raceway closing, Leamington being shuttered until recently and Michigan's harness racing industry also taking a hit. For a breeder in a more remote location, Ladouceur felt the pinch of a virtual yearling sale more than some of his more centrally-located participants.

"And I'm totally convinced in my mind that a lot of the virtual selling is going to continue to take place, and I'm still not in a good location for people to come and inspect."

Over the years, St. Lad's has produced a number of horses that were more than worth the drive to inspect. According to Ladouceur, 83.5 per cent of the horses bred and raised by St. Lad's have raced, with earnings in excess of $12.4 million, with 43 $100,000 earners.

The most notable of the horses with the St. Lad's prefix is St Lads Popcorn, the O'Brien Award winning daughter of Twin B Champ - Hot Butter who banked $654,606 on the racetrack and then tragically passed away while in foal after her second mating.

Ladouceur fondly recalled that group of 2006 foals, headlined by St Lads Popcorn. The farm raised 10 foals in that year and all 10 made it to the races as two-year-olds.

"Throughout the year, I had been following up on the babies' progress with their trainers. It was just amazing to see all of them make it to the races."

Other recent top performers bred by St. Lad's include Machal Jackson ($562,715), Mach It Paid ($456,765), St Lads Kingpin ($447,892) and St Lads Neptune ($356,070).

Bob and his wife Veronica have relocated into Ruscom Station, and will stay involved in the harness racing industry on a smaller scale with a handful of racehorses and some broodmares. He's unable to keep his horses locally as the farm has been sold and won't be maintained as a boarding facility.

"I have five broodmares in foal that I maintain with Mac Lilley Farms, looking at foaling in 2022, yearlings in 2023...not much chance of them racing as two-year-olds so I've set a new objective to live at least until 2025 to see some of these guys race," said Ladouceur with a laugh.

Ladouceur also plans to spend some time travelling with family while cheering on his beloved yet much-maligned local NFL franchise.

"I have season tickets for — and, I hate to say this out loud, I have for years and years — the Detroit Lions. Even in their year of 0 and 16, and it looks like it's going that way this year, too.

"I love football and it's a good social thing for me. It gives me a chance to bring my accountant, bring my banker, and stay on the good side of those guys."

December 6, 2021 - 12:32 pmIt is sad to see St Lads

Jack Darling SAID...

It is sad to see St Lads close down but it is a well deserved retirement for Bob and Veronica. They worked very hard and produced horses that raced and performed at their best on the racetrack. Great people that operated with honesty and integrity.

December 5, 2021 - 7:02 pmBob and Veronica did a great

Bob and Veronica did a great job and were on top of everything, they were hard-working honest hands-on custodians of our mares and foals. I enjoyed our chats on the phone. I hope you enjoy your retirement and your future foals.

December 5, 2021 - 3:56 pmAll the Best Sir. I used to

All the Best Sir. I used to follow Machal Jackson, loved his name and did not know that St. Lads Popcorn passed away. I am so sorry.

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