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Allard To Conquer The Meadowlands?


Published: March 18, 2011 9:50 am ET

Last Comment: March 18, 2011 9:14 pm ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Trainer Rene Allard has his sights set on winning the $100,000 Four Leaf Clover Saturday night at Meadowlands Racetrack. And, so far, the 24-year-old conditioner has met all of the goals he has set for himself.

Allard, the leading trainer in Canada, will team with his older brother, driver Simon Allard, to send out Strand Hanover in the Four Leaf Clover. Rated at 8-1 on the morning line from Post 6, Strand Hanover earned his spot in the final after a fourth-place finish in the second round of the series. Starting from Post 10, he worked hard to make the top in a :26.4 opening quarter and dug in gamely in the stretch to finish just a length and three-quarters behind the winner, Valentino.

"He raced well from Post 10 at the Meadowlands last week," Allard said. "I think he could be the best and hopefully we'll get a bit of luck. It doesn't matter how you race him. He can do it either way. I wouldn't mind seeing him second over, but Simon likes the front."

Allard and co-owners Brenda Waxman and Aaron Waxman purchased Strand Hanover privately last April. After a rocky first start -- he broke stride and finished ninth -- Strand Hanover went on to hit the board in 12 of 20 races and earn back $76,108 for his new connections. To date, the five-year-old son of Modern Art--Suntan Cathy has 11 career victories and a $178,360 bankroll.

"Strand Hanover was a horse we had been watching for a while," Allard said. "He was big and good-looking, and we bought him for $80,000. He's won in 1:50 at Woodbine. He had a heart problem, and we gave him time off for that. He's come back really well, and we planned on getting him in top shape for the WEGZ Series at Woodbine and the Four Leaf Clover. He was a really good second by a head in the WEGZ final from the 10-hole (behind his stablemate, Royal Becquet, on February 19)."

Allard also has high hopes for Dinner Guest and Most Happy Keene on Saturday night. Dinner Guest provided Allard with his first Meadowlands victory last week in the non-winners of $10,000 class. He returns Saturday night with a $60,000 claiming tag in the sixth race. Most Happy Keene is in for a $35,000 tag in the first race. He has won four of seven starts since Allard claimed him for that price on January 8 at Woodbine.

"I had so many people congratulate me for my first win there with Dinner Guest," Allard said. "We originally claimed that horse from Casie Coleman for $75,000. He had beaten Dali, so I immediately took notice of him. He finished fifth in last year's Four Leaf Clover, and when he came back he wasn't right. He got hurt, so we had to give him time off. When he came back here he had some bleeding issues, so we put him on lasix and he's a lot better.

"Before he came to the Meadowlands he won in a cheap class at Woodbine," he continued. "Last week, he equaled his lifetime mark of 1:50.3. I got a picture with [Hall of Fame driver] John Campbell and it was like living a dream."

Allard grew up in Saint-Esprit, Quebec, where his mother, Danielle, has been the village mayor for the last 14 years. His father, Michel, still trains a few horses on the family farm, where he and Simon cut their teeth racing ponies.

"My brother used to send everything," Allard recalled. "Those pony races were only half a mile, and he was the best at making speed. When he started driving in Montreal, there might have been three serious contenders in each race, and you had to leave hard. He won 468 races last year (and $3.6 million). We're just trying to win as many as we can. Every time we race a horse, we want to win."

With the closing of Hippodrome de Montreal and limited racing opportunities in the province, Allard left Quebec for Ontario three years ago. He arrived with a 17-horse stable of cheaper stock, which he built up to 55-head at Stephenson's Training Centre near Flamboro Downs.

"Every year I set goals, and initially I just wanted to race in Ontario and try to survive there," he said. "I found the competition pretty tough at first, but gradually I got better horses.

"My brother and I dreamed of success," he continued. "We had always planned to come to Ontario anyway, but it was terrible back home. There were a lot of great horsemen in Quebec, who are attached to their families. It made it hard for them to move. Their kids were in school and they had wives working jobs. Many horsemen just retired and they were still doing well."

Allard's next target was the Canadian dash-winning title, which he met with gusto. He led all trainers in 2009 (291) and 2010 (227), earning titles at Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs and Grand River Raceway both years.

"Last year, I was really exhausted from the previous season," he said. "It was like somebody hit me in the head with a two-by-four. I was burned out, and things started slowly, but they picked up again.

"I also lost one of my best friends in December (2010), and that didn't help," he continued. "Nevertheless, we had a huge month and passed $2 million again. I brought all my staff to a nice restaurant, and bought them jackets and hats. We're Team Allard. We're like a family. Everybody works together and it's a great team effort. I'm 24/7 focused. It's a lot of work, but I'll keep going like this as long as I'm young."

This year, Allard took aim at the Woodbine and Mohawk titles. Through March 14, he leads the Woodbine colony with 28 victories (Simon currently ranks fourth in the driver standings there).

"For me, it seems the only way to go in this business is to continue to set goals," he said. "For 2011, I thought why not try to be leading trainer on the WEG circuit. Basically, I upgraded my stock. I had 73 horses at one time. I sold seven in Ohio and about 30 in the Buffalo area. I got the owners together who had those cheaper horses, and we started claiming everything at Woodbine. Sometimes we claimed 10 a week. We wanted to have the best horse in each class. We're just striving to have better quality and race them in the right classes."

Conquering the Meadowlands could be Allard's next goal.

"I'm thinking of eventually of having a division of my stable in New Jersey," he said. "I look forward to seeing the Meadowlands do well in the future. I know a lot of people are not sure what's going to happen, but I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed. The sport needs the Meadowlands."


March 18, 2011 - 9:14 pmGood luck to the allrds the

adam albert SAID...

Good luck to the allrds the sport needs more and more men like them in the industry! they are great ambassodors to the sport!

March 18, 2011 - 10:49 amThe last line says it

Joe Riga SAID...

The last line says it all.THE SPORT NEEDS THE MEADOWLANDS.

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