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Plante Discusses Absence

Published: August 17, 2017 3:05 pm ET

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Jean Rene ‘J.R.’ Plante has been noticeably absent from the southern Ontario racing scene for much of 2017. He has taken the time to explain his absence to Trot Insider, and has also commented on whether he will be returning or not.

Plante, a former Flamboro Downs dash-winning driver, told Trot Insider that he has taken a step back from harness racing in order to spend more time testing his successes in other passions.

Apart from racing, Plante enjoys playing poker and coaching hockey. His three interests tend to interfere with each others schedule in some way or another, which has forced Plante to make some sacrifices.

“Last year in April when they had the Midget AAA hockey tryouts, I had to be away from home every night, and I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to take a step back here and fully pursue hockey and just give up racing.’”

Plante has been able to focus on his love for coaching during his time away from racing.

“Obviously, the dream is to make it to the NHL,” said Plante, “and I am a bit of a ways away from there, but I have to start somewhere. That’s my priority for sure.”

If the dream did come true, Plante says he would love to coach for the Quebec Nordiques if they get their team back, or the NHL’s newest franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights. Currently he is an Assistant Coach the Midget AAA Burlington Eagles, as well as his son’s AA team.

J.R. Plante (5), pictured victorious at the wire during a dash at Woodbine Racetrack (New Image Media)

In the past, Plante has taken summers off from racing to pursue poker as well. He explained to Trot Insider that the only time he can really find time to play poker is during the summer months.

“The thing with poker is you have to travel... to play big tournaments you have to travel, and I have three kids, and a wife and only in the summer I can travel… once hockey starts I am strictly at home.”

Plante has won more than $87,000 playing poker, which has placed him 840th on Canada’s all-time poker earnings list.

Plante has saddled up against some of the best poker players in the world and has found some success. He has three World Series of Poker cashes under his belt, but has said that he may be giving up the grind, to an extent. “I’m mostly done [playing poker],” Plante said. “I’ve played a lot this summer and the last six years I’ve played in the summer.”

Plante’s current shift raises the question of whether he will be returning to the racing industry or not. Plante told Trot Insider that he has considered buying a few horses and sending them off to be trained. Although, when it comes to getting back into the sulky himself, Plante is undecided.

“I really thought this was it this time,” Plante said about his ‘retirement’ from racing. “After five months off of racing it really comes back to you, you know? It always does. You get the itch to drive again.” Plante explained that, given the hockey schedule, there are multiple nights a week that he has time to race again now.

On Tuesday, August 15, Plante qualified trotter Alpha Seelster at Mohawk for trainer Isaac Waxman. Waxman also has Plante listed to drive pacer Dorabella at Mohawk on Thursday, August 17, and both Stature Seelster and Face Of War at Georgian Downs on Saturday night.

Plante’s driving career started in 1999, and since that time he has racked up more than 2,500 wins and 6,530 on-the-board finishes. Overall, Plante has participated in more than 15,000 pari-mutuel races, and during that time has steered his charges to almost $15 million in purse earnings. His strongest year came in 2012 when he notched more than 400 wins, reined his charges to $2.7 million in purses, and won the dash-winning title at Flamboro Downs.

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