The staff and management and the horsemen at Hippodrome 3R will have a special memorial service honouring harness racing legend Herve Filion on Sunday. Filion tragically passed away on Thursday at age 77.
Filion, who was born and raised in Angers, Quebec, starting competing as a driver in harness races at age 13 and won his first race at age 14 before becoming become harness racing’s greatest driver.
Filion came to the United States in 1961 and was the North America’s leading driver 16 times, earning his first title in 1968 and last in 1990. He retired with 15,179 wins and had career earnings of $88.4 million.
Filion was inducted into harness racing’s U.S. Hall of Fame in 1975 and Canada’s Horse Racing Hall of Fame a year later. His top horses included Grades Singing, the 1986 Maple Leaf Trot, American Trotting Championship and Breeders Crown Mare Trot winner. He won the Little Brown Jug with Nansemond in 1971 and Hot Hitter in 1979, and had multiple stakes victories with Dorunrun Bluegrass.
After the third race on Sunday, the horsemen and women in the race paddock will come on the track in their colours and track management will have a special reading of Herve Filion’s life, followed by a moment of silence in his memory. The flag on Sunday will also be lowered to half-mast in his honour.
On the track, trotters are in the limelight Sunday as 3R hosts two $30,000 finals of the Quebec-Bred Series for four and five-year-old horses and mares.
The first final for horses takes place in the sixth race and featured is the entry from trainer Isabelle Darveau of Wildwild Men and Seeyou Men. They are the morning line favourites to win the race.
Track record holder and previous series champion Wildwild Men starts from Post 3 and prior series champion Seeyou Men goes from Post 6. Both horses have enjoyed a few weeks of vacation and should be ready for action.
Bred and co-owned by Chantal Gravel of St. Cyrille De Wendover, with Catheline Pelletier of Mirabel, Wildwild Men and Seeyou Men are full brothers, both sired by Muscle Mass from the Angus Hall mare, Seeyouinthecircle. Seeyou Men is the older brother at age five, Wildwild Men is age four.
In the series, Wildwild Men, with driver Robert Shepherd in the sulky, won the opening round in 1:58.2, tying his lifetime mark. The following week he made a costly and rare break at the start, then came back from sixth place to be a close second. He has just four starts with one win and three second place finishes.
Seeyou Men was very good at the start of the 2017 season, but recently has tailed off. He was third in the opening round of the series for driver Guy Gagnon and in his last start was fifth.
“They are feeling very good,” said trainer Darveau. “They trained awesome and are going to be ready for this Sunday.”
The brothers will have to be at their best as they face divisional winners Holiday Party and KFB Amigo Cool. Holiday Party was last year’s champion, winning nine times. This year he won against Wildwild Men in 1:59.1 in the second round of the series and in his last start nearly wired the field, losing in the final strides to KFB Amigo Cool.
Trained by Dany Fontaine, Holiday Party starts from Post 1 for driver Pascal Berube.
KFB Amigo Cool starts from post five for driver Stephane Brosseau and in his last start was able to collar Holiday Party at the wire to win by a head, his first victory of the season.
Also entered in the race are Holiday Gift (Post 2) and McGarreth (Post 4).
The mares will feature a tough rivalry between Y S Suzanne and Y A Jailhouse Jodi in the ninth race $30,000 final.
Y A Jailhouse Jodi drew post one for driver Guy Gagnon in the final. She had finished second and fourth in the first two legs of the series, but in her last start the daughter of Andover Hall was at her best. With race favourite Y S Suzanne on the lead, Gagnon sent Y A Jailhouse Jodi first-over and those two horses battled head and head the last half mile of the race with Y A Jailhouse Jodi winning by three-quarters of a length in 2:02.
Y S Suzanne will start from Post 6 for driver Stephane Gendron. The daughter of Angus Hall was on a four-race win streak until last week’s loss. She is trained and owned by Carl Duguay of Deschambault and has six wins and four second-place finishes this year.
Duguay feels that his mare is ready for this Sunday’s finale.
“I think she will be OK on Sunday,” Duguay explained. “I prefer she lost in the elimination race and not in the final.
“She beat herself in her last start. She is better than a 2:02 mile and I hope the real Y S Suzanne will appear on Sunday. She trained in 2:00 Thursday and I think my beauty is back!”
Hoping to get a piece of the pie in the final Sunday will be Grace And Claire (Post 3), who was third in the last leg of the series. Rounding out the field are Eau Naturelle (Post 2), Artemis Duharas (Post 4), Double Chance (Post 5) and Lucky Promesses (Post 7).
The track record for older horses at 3R is 1:56 set by Pablo Angus (2008) and Michelangelo (2014). The older mares record is 1:57, set by Out Of The Hat in 2014.
First race post time is 12:30 p.m. Sunday. For entries, click the following link: Sunday Entries - Hippodrome 3R.
(with files from QJC)