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Roy Chasing His Dreams

Published: July 12, 2018 1:10 pm ET

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Whether your childhood dream was to play for the Montreal Canadians, become an astronaut, or have a live horse in a major stakes final, most people never get the opportunity to fulfill those aspirations. At approximately 10 p.m. (EDT) this Saturday night in East Rutherford, NJ, Louis-Philippe Roy will have the chance to live out one of his childhood dreams, when he takes the reins in the $701,830 final of the Meadowlands Pace aboard hopeful, Jimmy Freight.

“The biggest races for me to win are the North America Cup and the Meadowlands Pace… I remember watching Somebeachsomewhere lose to Art Official 10 years ago, it's a race I grew up watching. I never thought I'd be there, it’s a big thing for me,” Roy told Trot Insider.

“You don't realize how big driving in a race like this is until you're in it, but I don’t think it’s until you are able to look back, that it sinks in.”

When asked about the pressure involved in races like the Meadowlands Pace, the Quebec native related, “Driving with the big names in stakes races is always special for me, and I'm becoming more and more comfortable since I've gotten the experience against them for the last year or so… there’s always pressure driving in these types of races, though.”

Last weekend at the Meadowlands was Roy’s first time driving down at the ‘Big M.’ “The Meadowlands has always been the biggest track in my mind, growing up watching on TV… I always had a dream to drive there so getting to do so, it's pretty impressive for me,” Roy stated.

The biggest change of pace for Roy was adjusting to the track itself; that, he said, was noticeably different than his regular oval at Mohawk.

“The track at the Meadowlands is somewhere between Mohawk and Lexington (the Red Mile) in terms of speed; it doesn't seem like you are going that fast and then you look at the teletimer and realize how fast you're actually going.”

From the three-hole in the elimination, Jimmy Freight and Roy got to the lead early and led most of the way around with reasonable fractions (:27, :54.2, 1:22.2) – and then the race became a sprint.

“I know my horse and he wasn’t tired, but the race became a sprint in the last quarter and he paced the fastest last quarter in his life (:26.1),” Roy said.

Jimmy Freight was picked up by Courtly Choice and American History down the lane and finished third. He was individually clocked in 1:48.3 and kept his streak alive of never missing the board in 20 lifetime starts. He drew the four-hole for Saturday's prestigious final.

“I’m hopeful for some early speed in the final. There normally is, so hopefully I'm not too far out in the last quarter,” Roy told Trot Insider when asked how he imagines the race unfolding in a perfect world.

But the world isn’t perfect, and last week, with the Canada Day holiday falling on Monday, July 2 this year, Jimmy Freight’s departure time for the Garden State was pushed back a bit.

“With the holiday (Canada Day) being last Monday, he was delayed getting down to New Jersey by a bit, because you need the proper paperwork to transport the horse across the border,” Roy said. “He stayed down after the race (in the stable of trainer, Andrew Harris), so hopefully he will be a little more used to his new surroundings than he was last week.”

Not originally made eligible to the race, Jimmy Freight was supplemented into the Pace by owner Adriano Sorella, but Roy doesn’t see the large, one-time fee as anything that adds more pressure – he’s sees it more as a cost of doing business.

Jimmy Freight, pictured with Adriano Sorella (blue shirt) and Louis-Philippe Roy (right) after a victory at Woodbine Mohawk Park (New Image Media)

“The supplement fee may look like a big investment, a large, one-time fee, but when you drive in these races you realize that owners like Adriano already have lots of time and money invested into the process. You can buy 20 horses, train them down for months and you’d be lucky to have one with the ability to make the final. It's a long road,” said Roy.

Roy’s drive on the three-year-old son of Sportswriter isn't his only drive of the night. With the rising French-Canadian star’s wins and earnings skyrocketing over the last few seasons (from 58 wins and $217,783 in earnings in 2015, to 380 wins and $5,777,831 in earnings in 2017), people south of the border have been taking notice. Canada’s leading money-winning driver in 2018 has also picked up drives in the $471,000 William R. Haughton Memorial on Rockin Ron, and the $191,800 Mistletoe Shalee final on Sansovina Hanover, for the Ron Burke stable, as well as drives on all four horses in to go for Andrew Harris, including Jimmy Freight.

It's not everyday you get a chance to live out your childhood dream, so if you do, soak it up, you don't know when it may happen again.

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Justin Fisher)

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