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Ouellette Returns To Yonkers

Luc Ouellette03good.jpg

Published: April 12, 2012 8:26 pm ET

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It's sort of odd to see a new face emerge in a the fourth round of a series, but then again, this new face is really an old, familiar face.

Luc Ouellette makes his initial Yonkers Raceway appearance in nearly nine years Saturday night, driving early solid choice Strand Hanover from Post 4 in the fourth race - the first of five, $50,000 divisions of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series.

"I'm good friends with one of the co-owners (Aaron Waxman of Uncirculated Stable)," Ouellette said. "The horse has a chance to make the final of the series (currently in 11th place), and he was concerned Brian (Sears, who drove Strand Hanover in his opening-leg win) might pick off of him, so he asked me to come down.

"I know this horse well," Ouellette said of the six-year-old, Ontario-sired son of Modern Art. "In fact, I'd driven him several times and suggested the new owners buy him.” They did, for $70,000 last August.

"He's not on the same level as some of the others in the series, but I thought he was worth the money, and he's turned out to be so.”

The 46-year-old Ouellette first came into prominence in Westchester, leading Yonkers' drivers in wins for three consecutive seasons (1993-95). A star on both sides of the border, he has compiled career numbers of 8,455 victories and more than $127.5 million in purses.

According to the U.S. Trotting Association stat meister, David Carr, Ouellette's last drive here was July 26, 2003, and it turned out - for him (Ouellette, not Carr) - to be a memorable one for all the wrong reasons.

Ouellette crossed the line first with The Globe in the $273,984 final of the Art Rooney Pace, but was set down to second (behind No Pan Intended) after his entry mate, Brooklyn Hanover, was ruled to have interfered with the put-up winner in the lane.

"I'm looking forward to (coming back)," Ouellette said. "I've always enjoyed Yonkers, and it's going to be fun to see some people I haven't seen in a while.

"So far, all I've committed to is a quick trip down and back, but we're going to see what happens. There's another round after this, and if he does make the final, then I could turn into a Saturday night regular.

"I'm just glad I have a current New York State license."

Both the Levy and Blue Chip Matchmaker series offer five preliminary legs. Finals are scheduled for Saturday, April 28, and feature purses of $455,000 (Levy) and $297,000 (Matchmaker), respectively.

(Yonkers Raceway)

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