view counter
view counter

Right Place At The Right Time

Published: September 12, 2018 9:15 am ET

No Comments | Jump to Comments

With more than 3,000 career victories and three driving titles at Hippodrome 3R, National Driving Championship finalist Stephane Brosseau clearly has made his mark on standardbred racing in his home province of Quebec.

But the 49-year-old is also his own toughest critic, which is why he assesses his career as “75 per cent of what it could have been,” three decades after his first victory at Blue Bonnets in Montreal with Sexy Skipper in 1988.

“I should have gone to the states when I was younger. I did my qualifying drives there and drove in my first race at Brandywine, at 17, while I was working for my uncle in New Jersey. The closing of Blue Bonnets (in 2008) was a nightmare and came at an awkward point for me. I had a young son (now 13). It was not a time to leave. I think I'm a very good driver, but I haven't always been in the right place at a good time. I've also been tough on myself over the years and it hurt my confidence. But I've been working on that and I`m better with it now.”

Like many Quebec horsemen, Brosseau had to find alternative income while the provincial racing industry struggled to rebuild after grinding to a halt a decade ago. For five years, from 2012-2016, he worked on a friend's food truck and drove part-time.

“Driving was basically a hobby for me at that point. In my mind, I didn't see myself as a driver anymore,” said Brosseau, whose career highlights had included winning the $200,000 Coupe de L'Avenir final at Blue Bonnets with trotter Star Mocachino in 2002 and the $100,000 Coupe des Eleveurs final for three-year-old pacers with Sams Airborndancer in 2005. He also finished fifth with Curetiba in the 2001 Breeders Crown final for two-year-old trotting fillies at Woodbine for trainer Mark Steacy, "a big thrill."

Stephane Brosseau guides Hudson Phil to victory at Hippodrome 3R

Last year, Brosseau made the decision to return to the sport full-time, driving and training. That resulted in his first driving title at Hippodrome 3R in almost two decades, and he's on pace to repeat in 2018. He's qualified for the National Driving Championship, hosted this year by Grand River Raceway on September 26, for the first time.

“I was close to qualifying six years ago, even had the favourite in the last race, but the horse quit badly and I missed out. So it's nice to finally get there.

“Honestly, I think I'm driving now as well as I ever have. I play a lot of hockey and ball hockey to stay fit and I'm in good shape. I keep working on things because you can always get better, regardless of age. To make it to the tournament, I took some chances at Kawartha Downs (in the Eastern Ontario / Quebec Regional on June 30) that I might not have taken five or six years ago,” said Brosseau, runner-up to Guy Gagnon in that event.

Brosseau does most of his driving at Rideau Carleton in Ottawa and Hippodrome 3R, but he is familiar with most of the other Ontario tracks. He set a track record at Sudbury Downs with Quebec-based two-year-old pacer Duc Dorleans in 2012, and finished second with the same horse in the Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots Final that year at Grand River.

He knows Gagnon well and is a close friend of another NDC competitor, Louis-Philippe Roy, but said he doesn't see the tournament as a rivalry with them or any of the other participants. “For me, it's not about beating those guys, it's about driving as well as I can. If I'm sharp, I know I can be as good as those guys. I want to do my best for me. If I do, I should be close. That would make me very happy.”

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Paul Delean)

view counter

© 2021 Standardbred Canada. All rights reserved. Use of this site signifies your agreement and compliance with the legal disclaimer and privacy policy.

Firefox 3 Best with IE 7 Built with Drupal