Yvon Giguere, a longtime Quebec racing executive who moved to Ontario's Grand River Raceway when the tracks in his home province closed, has died at age 63. He was diagnosed just four months ago with cancer of the pancreas and liver, said his brother Michel, 70.
"He had a sore stomach one day, went to have it checked, and that's what they found. By the end, he was down to 110 pounds," said Michel Giguere.
Yvon was the youngest of four sons of Canadian Hall of Fame horseman Jules Giguere. A graduate of Laval University in Quebec City, he worked initially as a trainer and breeder with his father, and won Quebec's celebrated five-mile race with a horse called Tornado. After Jules died in 1986, Yvon went to work in marketing for Hippodrome de Quebec in Quebec City.
Yvon was the Simulcast Manager for Grand River Raceway since 2010. He was a highly esteemed executive throughout the global harness racing industry and was a former vice president of Racetracks Of Canada and director with Harness Tracks Of America. He held several management titles within Attractions Hippiques, Société National du Cheval de Course (SONACC), and Hippodrome de Montreal/Blue Bonnets.
Andre Marier, then president of Blue Bonnets racetrack, recruited him to handle simulcasting in Montreal alongside veteran Bill Slack in 1989, and he held a number of positions there until the track closed in 2008, including director of racing and head of simulcasting. A subsequent job offer brought him to Grand River, where he became pari-mutuel manager, and he relocated to Ontario with his young family.
"Everybody liked Yvon. He was always in good spirits," said Michel.
Yvon Giguere is survived by his wife Michelle Van Damme and their three children, twin sons Frédéric and François, 19, and daughter Andréanne, 15, as well as brothers Bobby, Guy and Michel. Together more than 20 years, Yvon and Michelle were wed in May at Grand River Raceway.
"It was very moving...almost like a goodbye," recalled Michel.
Mr. Giguere died Monday at a palliative care facility in Guelph, where he was transferred after five weeks at a hospital in Fergus.
The funeral will be private, followed by burial at the Quebec City cemetery where his father Jules and mother Cécile were laid to rest.
Grand River Raceway will air a video tribute to Yvon at the top of the race night broadcast (6:05 p.m. EST) on Wednesday, Aug. 10. (Grand River Raceway & Standardbred Canada files)