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Blais, Farrow On Intimidate Retirement

Published: July 30, 2017 11:15 am ET

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One of the most accomplished racehorses ever produced in Quebec has trotted his final competitive mile.

The owners of Intimidate, the millionaire and two-time O’Brien Award winner, have decided to retire the Justice Hall gelding, who had a single win in 11 starts as an eight-year-old. He’s already back at trainer Luc Blais’ farm in Lochaber Ouest, Quebec, where he trained as a baby.

“It’s the end of a really happy era,” said co-owner and co-breeder Judy Farrow of Hemmingford, Quebec. “It’s unbelievable what I was able to go through with this horse.”

Born at a time when the Quebec racing and breeding industry was in ruins, Intimidate avoided the sad fate of many other 2009 Quebec-breds because Farrow and Blais decided to keep and train him, even without a provincial sires stakes program.

The gelding came into his own as a three-year-old while racing for small purses at Rideau Carleton Raceway, then shipped to Mohawk Racetrack for the $246,521 Simcoe Stakes, where he went off at 26-1. He lost by a neck to Little Brown Fox in a track record mile of 1:51.4.

Farrow, who was trackside that night with her son, Trent, said it remains the biggest thrill she’s experienced in racing.

“That was the start of it all. It was like we had won, knowing we had a horse of that calibre. Had Luc not made the decision to go, we may never have known how good he was. I remember being in seventh heaven for the entire train trip home. And I went first class.”

She and Blais then did something that astounded many in the industry. Despite being owners of modest means, they put up $62,500 – virtually the entire sum won in the Simcoe – to supplement their three-year-old to the Breeders Crown at Woodbine Racetrack.

“Ìf he hadn`t come in second in the Simcoe, he would never have gone in the Breeders Crown, since neither of us had that kind of money,” Farrow said.

Intimidate`s explosive stretch kick made him unstoppable in the Breeders Crown elimination and the $500,000 final, where he beat Hambletonian winner Market Share. Blais, 55, said that race will always be his personal highlight.

“Everybody wants a horse in the Breeders Crown. He brought us there, and it was such a thrill.”

Intimidate’s exploits earned him an O’Brien Award as champion three-year-old and significantly boosted Blais’ profile in the industry. The following year, Blais was hired as head trainer for the powerful Quebec-based Determination Stable, which also acquired his half of Intimidate.

And the gelding was far from done. At age four, he set a track record at Vernon Downs while winning the $214,000 Credit Winner Trot in 1:51. At five, he knocked off Sebastian K in the $603,000 Maple Leaf Trot and also won the $500,000 TVG Final at the Meadowlands, which helped him earn his second O`Brien as champion older trotter.

Wins were infrequent in subsequent years, but Intimidate remained a fan favourite. He retired with 29 victories and $1.4 million in earnings, Among trotters with Quebec roots, only Grades Singing and Flanagan Memory collected more.

“He was more than a racehorse for me. For eight years, he’s been a partner,” said Blais. Farrow, 76, said, “he certainly changed Luc’s life... and he added a great deal of excitement to mine.”

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Paul Delean)

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