Quebec's 2023 Harness Racing Stars Honoured

Guy Lafontaine, Pascal Berube, Isabelle Binet, Sophie Mongeon
Published: April 8, 2024 05:46 pm EDT

A record 210 attendees celebrated the 2023 Quebec harness racing season at the annual Champions Gala this past Saturday evening, April 6 at Hippodrome 3R.

The event was a huge success with numerous guests happy to meet at the dawn of another 3R season that will begin on May 5. Track announcer Guy Lafontaine was the host for the awards banquet, which was coordinated by François Carignan.

Quebec stakes winners were honoured and awards were presented to top performers from the 2023 season.

Pascal Berube was named Driver of the Year with a Quebec seasonal record reading 81-48-40 from 342 starts, a .353 UDRS and $351,765 in purse earnings. He had 24 more victories than Stephane Brosseau and Robert Shepherd, and he had $43,947 more in earnings than Shepherd. Berube has been a model of consistency as the leading driver at 3R for the fourth consecutive year. Winning more than 80 races over a year of 40 programs remains an achievement that should not be trivialized and he is an exceptional ambassador for racing in Quebec.

Marc-André Simoneau was named Trainer of the Year with a Quebec seasonal summary of 30-23-8 from 128 starts and $106,059 in purse earnings. His exceptional UTRS of .355 is proof of the success of his hard work in which he is supported by his partner Wendy and his daughter Mary-Lee.

The Rookie of the Year award was presented to Maxime Dinelle, who had a Quebec seasonal record of 6-7-15 from 74 races with earnings of $25,928. Dinelle trained on the Quebec Regional Fair Circuit and has started his professional career in the sulky as well.

The Groom of the Year title went to Sabina Pelletier. Very busy in the paddock over the last few months, Pelletier worked for Haras De l’Estrie, the Daniel Martin stable and the duo of Guy and William Roy. 

NY Hardcore was named Pacer of the Year, with a Quebec seasonal record of 7-3-1 from 22 starts and earnings of $17,636 for owner Sonia Joly. The American Ideal mare won the most often at 3R in 2023. She was trained by Pierre-Marc Longpre and David Pilon. 

Fix A Drink was honoured as Trotter of the Year, with a record of 4-3-3 from 12 starts and earnings of $17,260 last year in Quebec for owners Shaun Baines and Pierre Leclerc. If there is one trotter who asserted himself at 3R in 2023, it was the Leclerc-trained son of Angus Hall, and often in the best classes against the best opponents. Driver Marie-Claude Auger knew how to maneuver well with this fiery trotter, who experienced tremendous progress in 2023 and finished his season on the big circuit strong.

The Breeder of the Year award was presented to Hervé Kirouac Jr., who won the two divisions for trotters of the Breeders Trophy Series with Free Wheels and Dont Treat Me Bad. This accomplishment has been witnessed before by breeders who bring several of their protégés to the finals, but with only two starters and two victories, that is a feat.

During the awards ceremony, the Quebec Jockey Club also acknowledged Adrien Doré, as an active horse owner and enthusiast at age 91; pacing mare Lit De Rose, as a millionaire daughter of Leader Bayama out of the Shanghai Phil mare Intense, owned and bred in Quebec by Guy Corbeil; and Saguenay racing enthusiasts Ecuries Fortin, led by Steeve and Gaétan Fortin, for their presence and commitment to the industry.

The complete list of honourees and awards winners follows.


Two-Year-Old Trotting Colt
M C Eddy

Two-Year-Old Trotting Filly 
Sensi Amnesia 

Two-Year-Old Pacing Colt
Boomboom Tonight

Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly
Shes Rock


Three-Year-Old Trotting Colt
Free Wheels

Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly
Dont Treat Me Bad

Three-Year-Old Pacing Colt
Kingston Panic

Three-Year-Old Trotting Filly


Two-Year-Old Pacing Filly
Sweet Molly & Ronda Du Lac 


Trotting Horse
Only For Justice

Trotting Mare
Kiss Me Bad

Pacing Horse 
The Light Speed


Driver of the Year
Pascal Berube

Trainer of the Year
Marc-André Simoneau

Rookie of the Year
Maxime Dinelle

Groom of the Year
Sabrina Pelletier

Pacer of the Year
NY Hardcore

Trotter of the Year
Fix A Drink

Breeder of the Year
Hervé Kirouac Jr.

Most Improved Horse
Thats Hooligan

Event of the Year
Brian Paquet Invitations

(With files from Quebec Jockey Club & Standardbred Canada; Photo, left to right, of host Guy Lafontaine, leading driver Pascal Berube and wife Isabelle Binet, and Quebec Jockey Club Chairwoman Sophie Mongeon)

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