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Picking Up Where He Left Off

Published: June 17, 2014 8:34 am ET

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Former Blue Bonnets track announcer Jean Desautels was happily retired when he got a call from the Quebec Jockey Club asking if he’d consider calling races in English this year at Hippodrome 3R for the internet and teletheatre markets.

He happily unretired to do it.

Desautels calling the Rendez-vous des Champions at Hippodrome de Montréal in 2006

“I don’t need to work but I still love the game. So does my wife (Lucille Morin), who comes with me. It’s 156 kilometres (from our home in Sherbrooke to Trois-Rivieres) but I’m doing that for pleasure. It wasn't hard to get back into it, either. It comes easy for me. I didn’t even need to practice,” said Desautels, 67, known for his bilingual race calls at Blue Bonnets/Hippodrome de Montreal.

Over 30 years, he called 57,688 races at the Montreal track. Along the way, he also did calls at Trois-Rivieres, Quebec City, Connaught Park, the regional circuit tracks, Truro, Charlottetown Driving Park, even a few at Pompano Park.

But it all ended abruptly when racetrack operator Attractions Hippiques pulled the plug in 2008.

“I was supposed to call the races in Montreal on a Friday night and I got a call just as I was leaving saying ‘it’s over. Bye.’ When you work 30 years at one place, you’d like a little more respect.”

Desautels said he hopes the Quebec Jockey Club’s attempt to bridge the linguistic divide and broaden its betting audience works out, but “I told them, either way, I’m OK with your decision. I’m just glad they thought of me.”

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Paul Delean)

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