Trois-Rivieres, QC – The Quebec Jockey Club and Standardbred Canada hosted the Quebec/Eastern Regional Driving Championship at the Hippodrome 3R on Sunday (June 26) afternoon and when the dust settled it was Samuel Fillion and Pascal Berube who were neck and neck down to the last race of the harness racing competition.
Samuel Fillion won the championship in the 8th race, scoring the fastest mile of the year at H3R with D Gs De Vito.
So now, Samuel Fillion and Pascal Berube will join the finalists for the Canadian Driving Championship on November 24 at Century Mile in Alberta.
Also competing are the Ontario Regional finalists, Louis Philippe Roy and Doug McNair. The Western Canada Regional finalists, Mike Hennessy and Phil Glesbrecht and then the two finalists from Atlantic Canada championship on July 30.
The overall winner will represent Canada in the 2023 World Driving Championship in Italy.
The weather was fantastic for the event and the warm, sunny temperatures (81f) made for fast miles. The eight drivers in the competition were Marie-Claude Auger, Guy Gagnon, Ryan Guy and Stéphane Pouliot of Rideau Carleton Raceway; Pascal Bérubé, Stéphane Brosseau and Samuel Fillion for H3R; and Nick Boyd for Kawartha Downs.
Races one through eight was the competition and H3R’s leading driver, Pascal Berube, started off the show in the 1st race pace with Windsong Napoleon (Art Major) going right to the lead and not looking back. They won in a romp by four and one-half lengths in 1:54.3. The race favorite, Like Lightning Lou (Marie-Claude Auger) broke after the start.
That was the fastest mile of the year at H3R, at least until the 8th race Sunday. Trained and owned by Yannick Martel, it was his first win in 17 starts this season, He paid $5.20 to win.
The 2nd race pace again saw Pascal Berube in the winner’s circle again as he took Indigo Seelster (Camluck), an 8-1 longshot, and sent him first-over against pacesetter Stellar Fella (Samuel Fillion). They were able to grind it out and still have some left in the tank as Indigo Seelster won by one and one-half lengths in 1:56.1. It was his second win this year for trainer Eric Milot and owners Johanne Sansoucy and Sophie Messier. He paid $31.90 to win.
The 3rd race Preferred-Handicap Trot unfortunately had three late scratches so, just four horses started in the race and what a race it was.
Muscles Forever (Ryan Guy) traded the lead with P C Heisenberg (Stephane Pouliot) to the quarter in :28.1. With P C Heisenberg in control. Then at the half mile in :58.3, Eau Naturelle (Guy Gagnon) started up first-over and second-over was the race favorite, Stella Alpha and driver Samuel Fillion.
Down the backstretch, Fillion took Stella Alpha, the lone filly in the race, three-wide by the three-quarters in 1:28. She was able to clear to first-over on the final turn and battled down the stretch against P C Heisenberg, wearing them down just at the finish to win by a long neck in 1:58. Muscles Forever was third.
The time of the race was a track record for three-year-old trotting fillies, the former record of 1:58.1 set by Kinnder High Class in 2020. It was the daughter of Royalty For Life’s sixth win this year and a lifetime mark.
Five of her wins are at H3R, tying her with Windsun Cheyenne as the two winningest horses this season. She is owned and was bred by the Alpha Stables and trained by Sylvain Tremblay. She paid $2.40 to win.
STELLA ALPHA REPLAY
The 4th race pace saw Kahlua Morning (Samuel Fillion) get to the lead, then give way to Shanghaibluebeach (Marie-Claude Auger). They were then challenged by Little T and driver Guy Gagnon first-over with Buckingham (Nick Boyd) grabbing the second-over cover.
Being stuck on the outside did not hinder Little T as she was able to handle Shangahibluebeach and still come on late to win by a head in 1:57.1.
Berube’s Café Society broke and was out of the race.
It was the fourth win this year for Little T (Allamerican Native), who is owned and trained by Jean-Francois Reid and paid $3.30 to win as the betting favorite.
Pascal Berube all but wrapped up the competition in the 5th race pace as he took Mach Play (Shadow Play), the 1/5 favorite, after early pacesetter HF Agent Andreoli (Stephane Brosseau), took the lead and left the field in his dust as he paced to a lifetime mark of 1:57.
It was the first win in eight starts this year for Mach Play, who won in a huge romp by nine and one-quarter lengths. He is trained by Nancy Auger for owner Joel Gagnon and paid $2.50 to win.
Once the 6th race Mares Preferred Pace was declared official, Pascal Berube had something to worry about, Samuel Fillion, as he wired the field with Fancy Girl (Westwardho Hanover). The time of the race was 1:56.1, a lifetime mark for Fancy Girl who won by two lengths.
She is trained by Dominique Picard for owner Francis Picard and paid $5.00 to win. It was her first win in six starts this year.
Going into the 7th race pace, Berube needed a win to wrap up the competition, Fillion needed a win to have a chance to beat Berube. Neither one would win, but Fillion was close.
Macho Polo (Mach Three) and driver Stephane Pouliot had their chance to shine in the sun as they went off as the 4/5 favorite and raced just like it.
Going to the early lead, Macho Polo cut all the fraction and had to hold off a first-over challenge from Prairie Mystic (Nick Boyd) and then a late charge by three-wide Disneyman and driver Samuel Fillion) to win by a half-length in 1:56.2.
It was the fourth win this year for Macho Polo ($3.80), who is trained by Marc Lemay for the Marc Lemay Stables.
For the 8th race Preferred-Handicap final division of the competition and Pascal Berube held the lead but did not have a drive in the race. Samuel Fillion had a live drive, and he needed a win to beat Berube.
Windsun Cheyenne and driver Ryan Guy left from the rail with Menlo Park (Stephane Brosseau) taking the two-hole spot to a quick opening quarter in :27 second.
Then it was D Gs De Vito and Samuel Fillion coming first-over and taking the lead. Coming to the half mile Guy Gagnon came first-over with the race favorite Siddhartha as they passed the half mile in :55.3.
The speed continued in the backstretch as Siddhartha came after D Gs De Vito, the three-quarters passed in 1:23.4. And that was enough for Fillion and D Gs De Vito as they pulled away from the field to win by five lengths in 1:52.1.
That clocking was the fastest mile of the year at H3R by more than two full seconds and it was a lifetime mark for D Gs De Vito (Sportswriter) who notched his third win of the year. He is trained by Guylaine Fortin for owner-breeder Daniel Surprenant and paid $4.40 to win.
D GS DE VITO REPLAY
FINAL SCORING FOR COMPETITION
Samuel Fillion – 61 points
Pascal Berube – 50
Guy Gagnon – 50
Nicholas Boyd – 45
Stephane Pouliot – 38
Ryan Guy – 31
Stephane Brosseau – 30
Marie-Claude Auger – 24
Track Notes: Four of the eight competition races saw lifetime marks taken, the two fastest miles of the year were set Sunday and a track record was rewritten. A job well done by the track crew. Both Pascal Berube and Samuel Fillion scored driving triples on Sunday. Live racing resumes next Friday, July 1 with first race post time at 4:00 pm. For more information about H3R, visit here.
by Steve Wolf, for the Quebec Jockey Club