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Fourth Time's A Charm?

Published: September 25, 2018 9:58 am ET

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Will the fourth time be the charm for Guy Gagnon at the 2018 National Driving Championship (NDC)?

The 49-year-old resident of Gatineau, Quebec, will be making his fourth appearance at the National Driving Championship, to be held Sept. 26 at Grand River Raceway, and is still looking for his first victory. He competed in the 2009, 2014 and 2016 events.

He fell just short in the 2009 event at Fraser Downs in British Columbia, leading into the last race but winding up second when Brad Forward pulled out a win to vault past him and become Canada's representative at the World Championship in Norway.

The 2019 World Driving Championship is in Sweden, and Gagnon would love to go.

“I'm hoping this (NDC) will be my moment. I think it would add another dimension to my career. But even if it isn't, it's always fun to participate and represent my region,” said Gagnon, who's won the regional qualifying tournament for Quebec and Eastern Ontario four consecutive times.

It's not like him to be shut out of the winner's circle for long. The leading driver at Rideau Carleton Raceway in Ottawa for much of the last decade, Gagnon has more than 5,000 career victories, starting with his first at age 19 at Hippodrome de Quebec in Quebec City.

He's in the top 10 in Canada for total wins (170) and is currently the leading percentage driver in the country by U.R.S. percentage with a .431 rating.

In addition to Rideau, where he's the busiest catch-driver, Gagnon competes regularly at Hippodrome 3R. He demonstrated his half-mile savvy in this year's $200,000 Prix d'Ete at 3R, rousing Quebec-owned 16-1 shot American Wiggle to a runner-up finish behind U.S. invader Beckhams Z Tam.

Gagnon also trains a 15-horse stable and still finds time for two pick-up hockey games a week. “I'm a guy who has to move,” he said. “I've always loved sports and been competitive.”

He got his start in Quebec City with trainer Jacques Beaudoin. “We lived across the street from the racetrack there, and my dad -- a machinist by profession -- was a racing fan,” Gagnon said. “That's how I got interested in the sport.”
When Beaudoin relocated to the Ottawa area to race at Rideau and now-defunct Connaught Park, Gagnon went with him.

He made a name for himself at Hippodrome de Montreal when he won two of the richest stakes for Quebec-breds, the $200,000-plus Coupe des Eleveurs finals, in 1998 and 2000, with trotters Rosanne Ray and Agator Car. They were horses he'd purchased as yearlings for less than $10,000 and developed himself. Agator Car went on to win more than $500,000.

Gagnon has been approached about relocating to southern Ontario but says he's happy with the success and quality of life he has now. Wife Louise Ricard is a local school principal, 20-year-old daughter Stephanie attends university in Montreal and 16-year-old son Frederic is in high school.

“It's nice to be champion here, where I'm appreciated and drive for good trainers,” he said. “I haven`t stopped dreaming - I still buy at auctions, hoping I'll get a champion one day - but I'm more realistic now. Small tracks have been my life. And life is good.”

(A Trot Insider Exclusive by Paul Delean)


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