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Savard Back In the Spotlight

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Published: September 4, 2009 1:27 pm ET

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Ten Stanley Cups have a way of making a man accustomed to the spotlight.

But hockey Hall of Famer Serge Savard, 62, the great Montreal Canadiens' defencemen, is nonetheless enjoying being in the public eye once again - this time for his part in the ownership of two outstanding pacing colts trained by long-time friend, Dr. Ian Moore.

Shadow Play, a handsome black four-year-old, captured harness racing's most prestigious race for pacers, the 2008 Little Brown Jug, in world record time, and is entered in Saturday night's $685,000 Canadian Pacing Derby at Mohawk Racetrack, while two-year-old Malicious is currently unbeaten in seven lifetime starts and is the 7-2 second choice in the $1 million Metro Pace, on the same Saturday night card.

Small-town connections led to Savard's return to the harness racing oval after a 30-year absence. He and his son own the junior hockey team, the Rocket, in Charlottetown, Moore's hometown and the base for both his veterinary practice and training stable. The Rocket happen to play next-door to the Charlottetown Driving Park, where Savard re-acquainted himself with harness racing and with Moore, who had once been president of the Ottawa Senators' farm team in Charlottetown.

In the mid-70s, during the heyday of his hockey career, Savard had enjoyed a partnership with trainer John Kopas, which resulted in being along for the ride on at least four horses whose earnings each topped the $300,000 mark. But he gave up his involvement in harness racing in 1983, when he became the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, feeling he couldn't devote enough time to it.

Managing the championship team (which took home two Stanley Cups during his tenure, 1986 and 1993) and an array of other business ventures kept Savard away from the track for a number of years, but his re-emergence has been immediately successful.

Shadow Play, whom Savard owns in partnership with Moore and the R G McGroup of Bathurst, N.B., showed himself to be a superstar at the age of three, despite competing against another Maritime-based horse, Somebeachsomewhere, who proved to be the most dominant pacer of the generation last year.

This year, he has captured the U.S. Pacing Championship, where he lowered his lifetime speed mark by another full second to 1:47.4 and last weekend at Mohawk, he was third by a mere length to Won The West in his Canadian Pacing Derby elimination. He has drawn Post 7 for the final.

"Shadow Play was the first horse I bought with Ian, two years ago," said Savard, who paid a mere $4,000 for his share in the $1.5 million earning stallion. "I was very involved 30 years ago and now I'm back in it and really like it."

He's equally enthused about Malicious. "He looks outstanding in training this week, but he's be in tough company, the toughest of his career so far. I have watched Sportswriter (the Metro's 8-5 morning-line choice) a couple of times and he looks very, very good."

Thus far, Savard's batting average in ownership has been equally outstanding. Out of a total of seven horses with whom he has owned a share with Moore, three have emerged to be world-class competitors. Already, he has held the Little Brown Jug trophy in his hands, a dream some owners spend their whole lives trying to achieve.

Clearly, he is enjoying the ride, and expects to be trackside in Campbellville on Saturday night to watch his superstar colts perform. If he attracts a little attention from fans while he's there, that's all part of the fun.

To view Saturday's harness racing entries, click here.

(WEG)


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