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Yves Filion On 'Rebeka,' Ontario Situation

Published: August 17, 2012 11:32 am ET

Last Comment: August 17, 2012 4:17 pm ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Rebeka Bayama carries the Bayama Farms banner into Friday’s $218,850 Golden Girls at the Meadowlands Racetrack. And for owner and breeder Yves Filion, his pacing mare conjures memories of his top horse, Goliath Bayama, who was known as 'The Monster from Montreal.'

Rebeka Bayama is rated at 5-1 on the morning line from Post 8 in a field of 11. The Golden Girls is carded as Race 7. The 12-race, stakes-filled program is the final live presentation of the 2012 Championship Meet, featuring Round 1 of the Vernon/Meadowlands Drivers Championship, a car giveaway, drawings for Bruce Springsteen VIP packages, a Diamond Dig, live music and fireworks. Post time for the card is 6:35 p.m.

In addition to overseeing 70 horses at his Bayama Farms in Saint-Andre-D’argent, Quebec, Filion, 65, and his son, Justin, 38, operate a 15-horse stable at BayCairn Training Centre in Campbellville, Ontario.

Yves is a brother to Hall of Famer Herve Filion and the youngest of eight boys and two girls. His son, Sylvain Filion, will be back in the sulky behind Rebeka Bayama on Friday. Pat Lachance is handling the training duties in New Jersey.

Rebeka Bayama has earned $451,553, with 20 wins in 39 career starts.

“She’s a real Quebec-bred horse,” noted Filion proudly. “I broke and raised Rebeka Bayama’s sire, Leader Bayama and her dam, Joyce Bayama. Leader Bayama is by Artsplace and he’s a three-quarter brother to Goliath Bayama (1:48.1, $1,509,163), who is by Abercrombie. They’re both out of Topaz Blue Chip, and she was one heck of a mare. She won an O’Brien Award as a three-year-old. She was full of crazy speed. Now that good breeding is coming back around through 'Rebeka.'”

Filion realized Rebeka Bayama was a special talent early on, but was willing to wait on her.

“I only raced her two starts as a two-year-old,” recalled Filion. “That was the first year there were no longer Quebec Sires Stakes. When she won her second start she showed me lots of potential. As a three-year-old, she won in 1:49.4 at Mohawk (winning the final of the Town Pro Pacing Series). As a four-year-old, she was dominant in the Open here on the WEG circuit. This past January, she won her first two starts in the Open, and I turned her out again. I wanted to concentrate on the big summer stakes. Now she’s coming to her peak form again.”

In the $253,700 Lady Liberty on Hambletonian Day, Rebeka Bayama launched a furious rally off live cover to finish a close second to Put On A Show in a world record of 1:47.3.

“I watched the Lady Liberty from Mohawk where I was racing a horse,” said Filion. “In the stretch, I wasn’t a bit surprised because she always finishes strong. The week before in the Roses Are Red she had the nine-hole and she came up sick. Sylvain said she should’ve been better. She was full of mucus in her trachea. So, I was glad there were no eliminations for the Lady Liberty. That gave us time to treat her with antibiotics.

“Anyway, she raced super in the Lady Liberty. I think she lost a length or two in the first turn. Sylvain had to grab her back when a horse made a break in front of her. Put On A Show was lucky the rail opened up for her. I was very pleased with my mare, and I knew her next race was going to be even better.”

Filion was dead on. With Hall of Famer Mike Lachance catch-driving, Rebeka Bayama followed up with a career best of 1:48.3 in last week’s Mares Invitational, a perfect tune up for the Golden Girls.

“Last week, Mike Lachance told me she won very easily and in the last eighth she changed gears. He told Herve Filion in the winner’s circle he’s never driven a mare like that before. I know she’s got Post 8 on Friday, but I’d rather be outside in a field like this. Hopefully, they mix it up and we get a good trip.”

Yves speaks fondly of his top trainee, Goliath Bayama, who won both the Breeders Crown in 1:48.4 and then the US Pacing Championship in 1:48.2 with thunderous rallies a week apart back in 2001 at the Big M.

“Goliath Bayama gave me some special memories when he won those back-to-back stakes in 2001. He was ‘The Monster from Montreal’ invading the Meadowlands. I’ll never forget those races. Serge Godin was partners with me on him and eventually bought me out. The horse is 16 now and still does some stud duty in Ontario.”

Despite watching his industry falter in Quebec, Filion remains positive.

“The business is coming back a bit there. They just opened two more off track wagering sites and they’re busy. They’re going to race at Trois-Rivieres in September. There will be a 10 or 15 programs for Quebec Sires Stakes.

“Despite everything, I’m still optimistic. My feeling is they can’t close Woodbine nor Mohawk, but we were saying that in Montreal and they shut it down (Hippodrome de Montreal). It was tough. People had to find other work. For me though, in some way, it was a good thing. I was on a wheel I couldn’t get off. I was going like a crazy man, breeding, breaking and training. I’m trying to reduce and go with more quality now. At one time I had around 130 horses at the farm. Fortunately, I did well in the Quebec Sires Stakes.

“I’m more positive in Ontario than I was in Quebec. They were going to postpone the fall sales here (in Ontario), but the provincial government urged them not to because they were supposed to make some sort of major announcement soon. We’ll see. Sometimes it’s almost as if nobody really knows what to do now.”


August 17, 2012 - 4:17 pmThe Filions are definitely

The Filions are definitely the heart and soul of harness racing in Quebec. I hope Yves is right about Ontario racing resolving itself.

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