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What's Next For Richard Moreau?

Published: February 14, 2020 2:00 pm ET

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After an unprecedented seventh straight O'Brien Award as Canada's Trainer of the Year, Richard Moreau has only one thing on his bucket list for 2020.

It's not an eighth O'Brien. The argument could be made, however, that if he accomplishes his goal, he'll definitely be in the running.

"I don't really have any specific aspirations," Moreau told Trot Insider after the 2019 O'Brien Awards. "Whether I win eight O'Briens or just seven won't change much. I feel I've reached my goal already. I just want to maintain what I have, the way I have it, for as long as possible.

"Because I don't race in the U.S., something like the Little Brown Jug isn't really in my vision. For me, a win is a win, even if they're just overnights, and you always sleep better with a couple of those under your belt."

If counting wins work like counting sheep for Moreau, he surely had plenty a restful night. Last year, Moreau trained 285 winners and trained horses to more than $4.5 million in earnings. He topped the trainer standings in earnings and wins in Canada, and at Woodbine Mohawk Park. He trained O’Brien finalist Double A Mint and the talented older pacing horse Jimmy Freight, a winner of more than $436,000. Other top performers from the Moreau Stable included top pacing mare Sandbetweenurtoes, a winner of more than $127,000, older trotter B Yoyo, a winner of more than $197,000 and two-year-old pacing colt YS Mathis, a winner of more than $256,000.

Jimmy Freight, winning the 2019 Mohawk Gold Cup

"Mostly, I appreciate the recognition it shows for my entourage and team, and the confidence that owners have shown in us." said Moreau of the O'Brien win.  "It's an honour, and I appreciate it."

That team strength is key, and it transcends just smart and hard-working staff. It also takes the right leader. The 55-year-old Moreau has surpassed $2 million in purse earnings for the past 10 consecutive years and banked more than $1 million for 20 consecutive years.  

"I have a lot of horse turnover in my stable, but almost none in the staff," admitted Moreau. "It's like any business; if employees feel respected and enjoy their work, it's easy. I have several employees from the Maritimes, and that's helped bring me horses from the Maritimes. Marco Gingras, Yannick's uncle, was the guy who showed me how to harness a horse when I was just getting started at Blue Bonnets; he works with me now, and so does his daughter Marylou. I have a full-time staff of 12, and another three part-time, and they know how to get things done."

With more than 5,940 training victories in his career -- third most in harness racing history -- it's clear that Moreau knows how to get things done. But what's not clear is why someone so successful hasn't made the jump to establish a satellite stable like Ron Burke and set up operations in jurisdictions south of the border. Moreau confesses that the idea has been pitched to him, and he's declined.

"It's been offered to me but I said no. I like the way we're set up here (near Woodbine Mohawk Park). I don't really want to expand my territory, and probably will downsize the stable eventually. This already is much more than I ever envisioned when I quit school to be a groom."

The heights of success achieved by Moreau and fellow Quebec native Luc Blais -- both in 2019 and in the better part of the decade -- are surely more than either could have imagined when they were forced to uproot from their home province as the harness racing industry collapsed in the late 2000s. Moreau has a ton of respect for Blais and spoke highly of the Hambletonian and Horse of the Year Award-winning conditioner.

"Luc is a serious person and horseman, reserved and respectful, who has worked hard  for what he's accomplished. Our stables are very different -- I'm an overnight trainer, he's a Grand Circuit guy -- but there's a common thread. We do the same work, put in the same hours. And we both were able to transition to Ontario with backing from Quebec owners when the industry in Quebec collapsed, which many others unfortunately were unable to do."

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