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“We’re Floored… Devastated”

Published: July 23, 2018 12:40 pm ET

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The sudden death of horseman Mario Lachance, 57, has left friends, family and the Quebec racing community reeling.

Lachance had competed as recently as Thursday night (July 19) at Rideau Carleton Raceway, where he won with Orlys Dream, a five-year-old trotter that he also trained.

“He told people after the race he wasn’t feeling right, that he had pain in the abdomen,” brother-in-law Daniel Surprenant said.

Lachance returned home to Mirabel and shortly after went to the hospital in nearby St. Eustache, where he was released after an initial examination. He returned a few hours later, in greater pain, and underwent an emergency operation, then was transferred to the Montreal Heart Institute, where he passed away on the operating table.

“We’re floored... devastated,” said Surprenant.

Son of hall-of-fame horseman Gilles Lachance, Mario never sought the spotlight, but enjoyed a long and productive career at Hippodrome de Montreal, training and driving horses like Reddy Almahurst, Natchez Hanover, Dandy Loup, Schnockered and Beagle Bay.

He was the regular driver in Quebec of sires-stakes star Val Taurus, whose two-year unbeaten streak in the province included the $100,000 Coupe de L’Avenir for trotters in 2006 and $200,000 Coupe des Eleveurs in 2007.

“Mario was a trotting guy. He knew how to adjust them,” Surprenant said.

Lachance and his wife of more than 30 years, Lynda Fortin, also were distinguished breeders. Their blueblood was mare ML Majo, whose offspring collected more than $1.2 million.

In one remarkable stretch, from 2001 to 2003, three of their ML Majo mares (from three different sires) won Quebec’s biggest race for older Quebec-bred pacing mares, the Prix du Quebec. Majo Maly (by Flight of Fire) did it in 2001, Majo Full Hot (by Lantern Light) in 2002, and Majo Nad (by Shipps Purser) in 2003. Another ML Majo filly, Majo Elika (by Yankee Cam), won the $100,000 Coupe des Eleveurs final for them in 2003, the year they were honoured by the provincial horsemen’s association as Quebec’s outstanding breeders.

Majo Nad earned $346,053 in her career, Majo Full Hot $343,150, Majo Maly $310,987 and Majo Elika $247,042.

The collapse of the Quebec racing industry 10 years ago ended the prosperous years in the sport for Lachance, and he drove a truck for a while to make ends meet while continuing to train horses on the side.

He returned to training full-time this past winter, as he oversaw a stable of 10 horses, most of which are owned by Surprenant. Sons Jonathan and Matthieu helped out at the barn, and father Gilles was a regular visitor.

“He died doing what he loved,” Surprenant said.

Funeral details have been released and can be accessed by clicking here.

Please join Standardbred Canada in offering condolences to the family and friends of Mario Lachance.

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Paul Delean)

(In an effort to consolidate comments on topics, if you would like to offer condolences, please do so by clicking here)

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