Come rain or shine this Sunday, harness racing driver Louis-Philippe Roy is looking forward to coming back to his "home turf" this Sunday at the Hippodrome 3R.
Roy, who just three years ago was driving mainly on the Quebec Fair Circuit, is now the second leading dash-winning and money-winning driver in all of Canada. He currently drives regularly at Mohawk Racetrack in Campbellville, but is excited about coming "home" Sunday.
"I can't wait to see my friends, family and people from Quebec," Roy said. "I enjoy it in Toronto, but it will be great to get a little break from practicing my English!"
Roy will not have that much time, at least between races on Sunday, as word got out that he would be driving on Sunday and trainer/owners jumped on the opportunity to have him drive their horses. He is scheduled to drive in 11 of the 13 races on the program.
"I look forward to driving against my brother (Pierre-Luc Roy) on Sunday," Roy said. "And for sure will be there my parents and a lot of friends from the racing industry to see on Sunday."
It has been many months since Roy last drove at H3R's half mile oval, racing exclusively at Woodbine Racetrack and now at Mohawk Racetrack's big tracks. But he has not forgotten how.
"Racing on a half-mile track is much different racing than in Toronto," Roy explained. "That's for sure. It's a lot more about early speed and I got some good horses on Sunday that have drawn tough post positions to work with like posts 9 and 10 that are both trailing posts, so I will try my best to help them get to the winner's circle. I will have to rely on some luck too!
"I have also driven many of these horses just last season," Roy said. "Or I have driven against them, so the time away in Toronto will not be a problem."
Roy is especially pleased to be at H3R for the racing fans.
"At H3R the racing fans are right up on the fence." Roy said. "You can see them up close and hear them. Being back to see my fans, friends and family will be great again for sure. I am sure they will be rooting for me."
Roy hopes to make it back to Quebec as much as his new schedule will allow him as he is already getting many offers to drive in the Ontario Sires Stakes this summer.
"If I have days off this summer," Roy said. "I will for sure better like to go see my friends in Trois-Rivières and drive at H3R instead of staying at home watching them!"
Roy will be back at H3R for sure on Sunday, June 4, as he will represent his home track in the second annual All-Star Drivers Tournament, competing against world class drivers David Miller, Yannick Gingras, Daniel Dube, Sylvain Filion, defending champion Jody Jamieson, Stephane Bouchard and Scott Zeron.
"I hope I can I get along with these Legends," Roy laughed. "There are some drivers in the competition that I will get to meet for the first time and I'm really happy to have the opportunity not only to meet them but to compete with them. I remember last year watching them in the tournament and now I get to race against them. It's is all very good."
Roy's success this past year, being the leading driver at both H3R and Rideau Carlton, moving to Toronto and becoming a world class driver is a dream come true for him.
"Of course, I have dreamed of being a top driver and competing in tournaments like this." Roy explained. "Dreaming is something, but I never thought or ever expected it to come true and it has."
The $100,000 Quebec-Bred Series for 4 -and 5-year-old pacers kicks off the 2017 stakes season at H3R Sunday with both mare and horse divisions. There are four weeks of preliminary competition culminating with $30,000 finals for each sex on Sunday, June 11.
Roy will be driving one of the favorites in the fourth race mare's division, starting from post nine with HP Sissy. She is part of an entry from the Jean Tourigny Stable with HP Pandora (post 1), who is on a two-race win streak for driver Stephane Brosseau.
HP Sissy won $82,000 last year on the strength of seven wins, a lifetime mark of 1:54.2 at Mohawk and setting the stakes record with a 1:55.4 victory in the Quebec Breeders Crown final last year.
Other contenders include 2015 Quebec champion Miss Babe Delight (post eight), Art De Gagnee (post 4) and return winner Skyfall Sena (post three).
The horses do battle in the seventh race with ten starters headed by prior local favorite, Sugarsam. The 5-year-old gelded son of Sportswriter has shipped back to Quebec from Northfield Park, where he won his last start in 1:55.1. He will be driven by Stephane Gendron.
Last year's top 3-year-old pacer, HP Patriote, goes from post nine for driver/trainer Gerard Demers and faces a tough road trip against return winner Mr. Mach Jimmy (post five) for driver Richard Simard and the tough entry from trainer Dany Fountaine of Mr. Mach Beach (post one) with Stephane Brosseau and Mach On The Beach (post 10) for driver Pascal Berube.
Roy has a difficult post seven in the race with Half A Billion, who ships in for the series from Toronto.
He also has drives in both the Preferred Trot and Pace Sunday.
"It will be great to back on Sunday, even if it rains," Roy said. "Anytime you can come home to see family and friends is good and hopefully I can please the race fans too!" (Quebec Jockey Club)