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'Flanagan' Seeks More Memories

Published: August 24, 2016 1:37 pm ET

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Flanagan Memory heads to Friday’s $193,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot at Vernon Downs looking for his first stakes win of the season, but the six-year-old son of Kadabra has already provided more magical moments than anyone associated with the trotter ever expected.

The winner of 17 races and $1.1 million, Flanagan Memory was born two weeks prior to the death of his breeder, Michel Flanagan of Quebec. Flanagan’s daughter, Liette, was not involved much in harness racing, but was determined to keep the horse regardless of any input she received. Among those offering advice were her father, who before his passing suggested Liette get rid of the colt because of his crooked legs.

“He said I knew nothing about the horses and he didn’t want me to get in trouble,” Liette Flanagan said. “I told him no, I was going to keep him first and see what (then-trainer) Pierre Touchette said. I wanted to see what we could do and give him a chance.

“Pierre said, ‘I understand. You’re going to do what you have to do. I won’t argue with you.’ I told him he didn’t have to argue, I was going to do it anyways.”

Flanagan’s decision paid off. Flanagan Memory’s career victories include the 2015 John Cashman Memorial, 2013 Goodtimes Stakes, and 2013 Ontario Sires Stakes championship. He received the 2013 O’Brien Award for Canada’s best three-year-old male trotter.

“I’m happy about it,” Flanagan said. “My father, even though he passed away six years ago, he is somewhere living still in the horse. I never expected this. Even my father, if he was alive, he wouldn’t believe it. It’s really something. When you have that once-in-a-lifetime horse, it’s wonderful.”

Flanagan was unable to attend Flanagan Memory’s win in the Goodtimes, but was at Mohawk Racetrack when he won the Ontario championship.

“The (Goodtimes), I was very happy,” Flanagan said. “I was watching on the computer. I was alone that day watching and I was screaming, ‘Come on, baby, come on.’ The second one, that’s when I realized it wasn’t just luck. Everyone around me didn’t know I owned the horse, but they found out very fast. I was going crazy.”

Flanagan Memory, out of the Flanagan-owned mare Classy Stacy, has won four of eight races this year and earned $157,580. All of his victories this season, including a 1:51.2 career-best in July, have come at Mohawk Racetrack in Preferreds. His stakes results include a second-place finish in the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial and third-place finishes in the Charlie Hill Memorial and Cashman.

The stallion is trained by Rene Dion, a Touchette protégé who took over following the death of his mentor in 2011. Dion joined Liette Flanagan in ownership of Flanagan Memory prior to the horse’s racing career.

Flanagan Memory will start Friday’s Crawford from Post 8 with Brian Sears listed to drive. Flanagan Memory is 9-2 on the morning line, the third choice behind Resolve at 5-2 and Obrigado at 7-2.

“He’s had a nice season,” Flanagan said. “He deserves a nice big win now.”

Flanagan, who is the president of a Montreal-based business association founded by her father in 1972, owns four horses at the moment. In addition to Flanagan Memory and Classy Stacy, she owns Flanagan Memory’s full sister, Flanagan Lady. The five-year-old Flanagan Lady was unraced, but is the dam of a Justice Hall-sired yearling named Flanagan Fantasy. She is in foal to Justice Hall again.

She plans to continue racing Flanagan Memory for as long as the horse is happy and successful.

“We don’t force him,” Flanagan said. “He’s not a machine. We have to respect that, too. I think we’re doing well with that. We let him tell us when he’s ready to go. We just have to watch him and listen to him.”

Friday’s card at Vernon Downs also features the $170,000 Muscle Hill Stakes for older female trotters. Hannelore Hanover, who has won 12 of 13 races this year and earned $580,189 for trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing, the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, and Frank Baldachino, is the 5-2 morning line favourite.

Following are the fields for the Muscle Hill and Crawford.

$170,000 Muscle Hill Mares Trot
Race 9 – Post time 9:25 p.m. (EDT)
PP – Horse – Driver – Trainer – Line
1. Harley Momma – Ake Svanstedt – Ake Svanstedt – 8/1
2. Jewels In Hock – John Campbell – Linda Toscano – 7/2
3. Rules Of The Road – Jim Morrill Jr. – Janice Connor – 5/1
4. Barn Doll – Jeff Gregory – Jeff Gregory – 9/2
5. Shake It Cerry – David Miller – Jimmy Takter – 6/1
6. Kelseys Keepsake – Scott Zeron – Ron Burke – 8/1
7. Hannelore Hanover – Yannick Gingras – Ron Burke – 5/2
8. Im So Fancy – Mark MacDonald – Tony Alagna – 10/1

$193,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot
Race 10 – Post time 9:45 p.m. (EDT)
PP – Horse – Driver – Trainer – Line
1. Crescent Fashion – Jim Morrill Jr. – Ake Svanstedt – 10/1
2. Homicide Hunter – David Miller – Chris Oakes – 6/1
3. JL Cruze – John Campbell – Eric Ell – 8/1
4. Canepa Hanover – Yannick Gingras – Jimmy Takter – 10/1
5. Centurion ATM – Steve Smith – Ake Svanstedt – 8/1
6. Resolve – Ake Svanstedt – Ake Svanstedt – 5/2
7. Obrigado – Mark MacDonald – Paul Kelley – 7/2
8. Flanagan Memory – Brian Sears – Rene Dion – 9/2
9. Musical Rhythm – Scott Zeron – Benoit Baillargeon – 5/1

This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit

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