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Belanger Rescues Runaway Horse


Published: February 2, 2011 10:31 am ET

Last Comment: February 3, 2011 11:16 am ET | 8 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Sudbury Downs celebrated many memorable moments throughout this past year but none so courageous and daring as witnessed in the 8th race on Wednesday, November 10, 2010.

Coming out of the fourth turn heading to the half-mile pole, Belanger - sitting in second place with betting favourite Aforgottendynasty - was confronted with having to make a split second decision to abandon all racing effort in pursuit of a rescue attempt for fellow driver Al Hohner. His four-year old trotting mare, Mystical Vision had the driving bit break in her mouth going to the quarter pole, rendering him void of any control and back several lengths. The mare trotted on and catching up to the horses instinctively tipped to the outside surging toward the leading horses. As they pulled alongside, Belanger caught sight of the predicament in an instant and in a split second decision, opted out of the race in favour of a rescue mission.

This wasn’t a case where the rein broke. In that instance you have one line still attached, which is not really a whole lot better. But Hohner was absolutely helpless.

Belanger immediately began to cautiously steer his horse away from in behind the leading horse and Hohner’s horse drifted out with him. He grabbed for the mare’s racing halter, which is a very flimsy piece of equipment for a 1,000 lb horse, certainly not intended to take any serious amount of stress.

Moving up the stretch, they were quickly running out of race track but Belanger continued to reach for the halter. Finally, just in the nick of time, he caught hold! They were very near to the outside rail when, latching on, the brave reinsman was able to steady Aforgottendynasty and pull both horses to a stop without further incident.

It was a tremendous display of courage, self sacrifice and horsemanship. On Friday, December 31, the final day of the Sudbury Downs harness racing season the track honoured Azilda, Ontario’s favourite son with a special tribute.

Sudbury Downs Director of Operations Andrew MacIsaac praised Belanger’s effort stating, “Gerry, you not only lost any potential driving fees but as owner of Aforgottendynasty your saving action potentially cost you purse money as well." MacIsaac continued, “You are to be commended for your selfless action, putting the safety of the other drivers and their horse’s safety above your own.” Following his remarks, MacIsaac presented a cheque to Belanger in the amount of $1,000.

All money wagered on Aforgottendynasty was refunded.

From 623 drives at Sudbury Downs in 2010 he earned a Universal Driver Rating of .300. He also finished on top in each of the win/place/show columns with 100 wins, 101 second place finishes and 94 thirds. Add to those accolades the fact that he earned more driving purse money than any other reinsman at Sudbury finishing with $582,833.

Sudbury Downs resumes racing on Saturday, April 23, 2011.

(with files from Sudbury Downs)

February 3, 2011 - 11:16 amGreat story for sure!!! Just

Great story for sure!!! Just wonderful to see Gerry do this and possibly save Al's life.

February 2, 2011 - 5:09 pmTo a good freind

jim green SAID...

To a good freind Gerry.Courageous is not a big enough word for what you did on the SD track.

February 2, 2011 - 4:27 pmThe interviewer, Alana

The interviewer, Alana Everson, was the breeder and owner of the very good trotter, Bionic Ballad. Harness racing is fortunate to have someone like her to cover such stories in Northern Ontario.

February 2, 2011 - 12:38 pmawesome .great reaction

awesome .great reaction ..Kudos to Gerry

February 2, 2011 - 12:07 pmWhat an awesome story!!

Dan Davis SAID...

What an awesome story!! Kudos to Belanger!!
And Kudos to Sudbury's management for the recognition!!

February 2, 2011 - 11:47 amwow ! well done !

wow ! well done !

February 2, 2011 - 11:24 amThis type of recognition of

Carolyn Rae SAID...

This type of recognition of quick thinking, brave and selfless actions on the track too often goes unrecognized, and I commend and thank Mr. McIsaac for this. This is the sign of a true horseman, one who reacts to an emergency situation, and doesn't have to think about what to do. He recognized immediately, that a fellow horseman was in trouble, and acted immediately to avoid any mishap to all on the track. One must keep in mind, that this all happens in a matter of seconds, because the whole race happens in little more or less than 2 minutes.

I think without a doubt, the quick thinking of Gerry in Sudbury on Nov. 10th, avoided what could have been another catastrophe on the track. Cudos to Gerry!!

February 2, 2011 - 10:46 amWhat a great story. :)

What a great story. :)

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