Roland Beaulieu, best known for his 1970s stars Columbia George, Skipper Walt and Romalie Hanover, died Thursday, April 10, at his home in Orlando, Fla. He was 98.
A native of Lewiston, Maine, Mr. Beaulieu grew up in an area with a large population of French Canadians and didn't learn English until his teen years. He then employed himself by opening a bar and snack shop, although he was a teetotaler. In his mid 20s, when he developed health issues, a doctor advised him to get more fresh air and he started spending time with harness horses on the Maine fair circuit, and harness racing became his life's work. Early in his career he developed the stakes winner Eileen Eden and the raceway notables Regal Pick and Adam Eden.
In 1969, training horses for Dr. George Smith of Byram, Conn., Mr. Beaulieu became a fixture on the Grand Circuit with the 2-year-old pacing colt Columbia George. Mr. Beaulieu knew the colt had talent, but he also had a couple of bowed tendons. He made a special leg paint to treat the affliction and with the help of his wife, Blondie, the Good Time colt won 12 races as a 2 year old and set seasonal, track and world records. As a 3 year old Columbia George won the American-National, a Hanover-Hempt, a heat of the Adios, a heat of the Little Brown Jug, and a heat of the Tattersalls Pace, but his nemesis Most Happy Fella was a tough adversary.
In 1971 Mr. Beaulieu was in the Grand Circuit with Romalie Hanover, a full sister to champions Romeo Hanover and Romulus Hanover. Dr. Smith bought the filly as a yearling for $101,000 and she was a success on the track, although Mr. Beaulieu could not drive during her 2-year-old stakes campaign because he had suffered a heart attack. At 3, with Mr. Beaulieu back in the sulky, Romalie Hanover set a world mark and closed out her racing career with more 2:00 race miles by any filly or more.
A few years later, 1974, Mr. Beaulieu had another champion in his barn, Skipper Walt, a son of Meadow Skipper out of a Good Time mare, but nonetheless a natural-born trotter. Mr. Beaulieu raced the colt on the trot as a 2 year old and Skipper Walt set numerous season's marks while winning 12 races that year. In 1976 Mr. Beaulieu allowed Skipper Walt to become a double-gaited world champion when he time trialed him on both the trot and pace during the fall Grand Circuit meet at The Red Mile.
Mr. Beaulieu retired from harness racing in 1983 and settled in Orlando, at his home about two miles away from Ben White Raceway, where he had trained his greatest horses. Until his wife Blondie died in 2010, the couple traveled, and Mr. Beaulieu regularly played golf three times a week until he was 96.
He is survived by his daughters Alana "Kitty" Hutter (Robert), Apopka, Fla., and Sonia Taylor, Orlando; his sister, Yvette Gousse, Sabattus, Maine; three grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.
Private services will be held at Carey-Hand Cox Parker Funeral Home, 1350 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, Fla., at 1 pm on Thursday, April 17. Interment will be at Highland Memory Gardens, Apopka, Fla. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to your local humane society, the ASPCA or any animal rescue group.