The Hippodrome 3R racetrack in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, made the national harness racing spotlight in December when track management announced the revival of one of Canada's most prestigious race events, the Prix d'Été.
They will hold this special race on Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, and with a guaranteed purse of $200,000 plus a $50,000 consolation race, making it the richest stakes event in North America for 4-year-old pacers.
Track management is already talking not only with sponsors for the big event, but also with the Quebec Division of Tourism in hopes of making the Prix d'Été a special weekend of fun activities for racing fans and tourists to come out and celebrate the hospitality of the Quebec people and the long history of harness racing in the province.
Currently one of harness racing's leading drivers, Yannick Gingras, a native of Quebec, summed up the special weekend that Hippodrome 3R is planning.
"They are doing such a great job there,” Gingras said. "The racetrack there is very good. It allows the fans to be right up close to the action. Closer than any track I have ever competed at. They have also done a good job on their racing surface as it was an excellent half-mile track when I raced there.”
Gingras competed at Hippodrome 3R last season in a driver tournament and not only won the event with three wins, but ended the afternoon program with six victories.
"The weather for the Prix d'Été race in late September should be wonderful.” Gingras said. "The Three Rivers area is beautiful and just an hour from Quebec City and a little more from Montreal. People who want to come up for the big race weekend will find plenty to do. There is so much history, wonderful food, beautiful scenery, just a fabulous area.
"I really hope to have a drive in the Prix d'Été that Sunday.” Gingras said. "I would love to fly up Sunday morning, drive on the race program and depending on my race schedule, maybe enjoy a day or two in my home province."
Harness driver John Campbell, the sport's all-time winningest purse earner and president of the prestigious Grand Circuit is super pleased that the Prix d'Été is a Grand Circuit event.
"It is great that the Prix d'Été name is being revived,” Campbell said. "The race has such a great history and was so prestigious. As someone who has competed and won the Prix d'Été in the past I am glad they chose to name their race that.
"We are so pleased that the management at Hippodrome 3R has developed this race and is going under the umbrella of the Grand Circuit,” Campbell said. "From a marketability standpoint it will be a great asset to the track to be part of the prestigious Grand Circuit.
"I am really hoping to have a good horse to drive in the race.” Campbell added. "It's been a long time since I competed in it. I remember racing Boomer Drummond at Hippodrome 3R and I have won the former Prix d'Été with Direct Flight in 1992. Over the years I have so many friends from Quebec so I am hoping I will have a drive in the Prix d'Été so I can come up and enjoy the hospitality and the racing.
"It is great that the horsemen at Hippodrome 3R has come up with this rich stakes race.” Campbell said. "They are showing they are innovative in doing a 4-year-old restricted race for pacers and I hope that everyone will nominate for the race and I wish them the very best.” (Quebec Jockey Club)