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Prix d'Été: Legendary

Published: March 1, 2014 9:00 am ET

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The architect of the original Prix d’Été in Montreal is among those enthused by its revival this year at Hippodrome 3R in Trois-Rivieres, and plans to be on hand for the race Sept. 21.

“It’s nice to see them making an effort to go with a major open race like this one is,” said Canadian Horse racing Hall of Famer Mike MacCormac, former vice-president of racing at Blue Bonnets racetrack in Montreal, now 78. “ It would have been nice if they’d been able to make it for three-year-olds, but between the eliminations and finals, the schedule’s already full for them from end to the other. There aren’t many $200,000 races for four-year-olds, so it’s worth taking a shot. This should definitely put them on the map.”

That was the intention when the Prix d’Été (which began as the Prix d’Automne and Amble du Centenaire for older horses) was introduced in Montreal in 1966.

“We had a new clubhouse and grandstand, the racing was good, but we needed a major feature,” MacCormac said. “So I prepared the whole thing and brought it to my boss, Raymond Lemay. He said ‘this looks good’, talked to the bosses, and it was a go. The beauty of it was that we had something to talk about from the time the nominations were made on March 15 until the race itself at the end of August. There was a lot of build-up. The timing also was good, just before the kids went back to school. Owners and trainers liked to come because we treated them well. It was easier then than now to persuade them to take their horses on the road.”

Getting division leader Albatross for its first year as a three-year-old stake got the ball rolling, MacCormac said. Niatross in 1980 also was a major draw. “It was just one heat that year, nobody wanted to tackle him. He put on a good show.”

To read the full feature on the Prix d'Été from the March issue of Trot, click one of the following links: Prix D'Été: Legendary -- Le Prix D'Été:Légendaire.

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Paul Delean)

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