"Sometimes when you see the video [of a yearling] you're not sure but he caught my eye right away. He caught my eye in the video, and he caught my eye when I saw the horse."
Luc Blais can't explain what makes Forbidden Trade such a good horse, but the talented trainer definitely knows that the first impressions made were good ones.
Now, just over two years removed from that first impression and subsequent $110,000 yearling sale purchase, Blais can boast two of harness racing's highest achievements: a Hambletonian title and a Somebeachsomewhere Horse of the Year Award.
On Saturday, February 1, Standardbred Canada announced the winners for the 2019 O’Brien Award at the 31st edition of the annual O’Brien Awards Black Tie Gala held at the Hilton Mississauga / Meadowvale hotel in Mississauga, Ont. Forbidden Trade took divisional honours in the Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt category as well as the most coveted award of the evening, the Somebeachsomewhere Horse of the Year.
"It's good for all the team," Blais told SC's Rachel Oenema of winning the Horse of the Year award. "It's the cherry [on top]. Everyone feels good. Tomorrow morning, Monday, everyone's going to be happy in the barn. Because like me, in this business, everyone's passionate about that."
A son of past O'Brien Award winners Kadabra and Pure Ivory, Forbidden Trade provided his connections -- trainer Blais, owner Determination of Montreal, Que. and driver Bob McClure -- with a season of thrills and memories last year, highlighted by his victory in the $1 million Hambletonian. He was a top Grand Circuit competitor, scoring eight victories and over $1 million in purse earnings. Some of his noteworthy wins included an elimination of the Goodtimes, three Ontario Sires Stakes Gold events and the Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final, his final win on the season.
Blais also provides an update on Forbidden Trade, and what makes fellow O'Brien Award finalist Bob McClure such a good fit for his horses.
The full post-event interview with Blais and Oenema is available below.
This is the first in a series of post-event video interviews with O'Brien Award finalists, sponsored by Horse Racing Alberta.
The O’Brien Awards honour Canada’s best in harness racing over the past season and are named in honour of the late Joe O’Brien, an outstanding horseman and member of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. To view the full list of 2019 O'Brien Award winners, click here.