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MacDonald "Had A Heart Of Gold"

Published: June 21, 2018 9:20 am ET

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The death this week of fellow Maritime horseman Mike MacDonald, 70, hit hard for Marcel Barrieau, 71.

They'd been acquaintances since their teens, but became close friends during the nearly 30 years Barrieau was based at Blue Bonnets racetrack.

MacDonald had relocated to Montreal first, becoming a fixture in the local drivers' colony, and he and wife Judy made sure the Barrieaus felt at home.

"They were the only friends we had when we came up, and they helped us a lot, in so many ways. We were always at their place. They took us everywhere. They couldn't do enough for us," recalled Barrieau, 71.

Competitors on the track, where MacDonald was known for aggressively seeking the early lead, they'd relax together playing cards or going to Montreal Expos baseball games.

"He knew a lot of professional athletes and introduced me," Barrieau said. "Pete Rose, John Ferguson...I met them through Mike, He had a heart of gold, that man."

Barrieau said he still vividly remembers the Blue Bonnets days, when his stable occupied Barn 7 and MacDonald's horses were in Barn 9.

Those barns are now gone, with the grandstand partially demolished, 10 years after the abrupt end of live racing at the historic Montreal track due to the bankruptcy of racetrack operator Attractions Hippiques.

Marcel Barrieau holds Drachan Hanover after an OSS Gold win in 2014 at Mohawk

"I'll never forget the days I spent there. I miss it," he said. "What happened really put a block in my wheel. We were all getting up there in's a poor time to be moving. It took a lot out of myself and a lot of people. Your whole life changes. The worst part is that we didn't see it coming. We couldn't believe they'd shut it down that quick. I was one of the lucky ones, though. I kept my owners and they kept me going (in Ontario)."

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Paul Delean)

In an effort to consolidate condolences and memories, we've closed comments on this note and invite users to leave comments on the obituary initially posted for Mike MacDonald.

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