View Full Version : French Drivers

01-27-2005, 06:09 PM
Why are French drivers (or maybe they are French Canadian) everywhere in harness racing?

Does the sport have some sort of French roots that I am unaware of?

01-27-2005, 09:55 PM
French Canadians. There are 4 harness tracks in Quebec and as soon as any of them start to win a bunch of races they leave for greener pastures ( Toronto , New York ). The purses are a joke in La Belle Province. Thats why guys with great talent Lachance, Dube, Filion , Gingras, Ouellette, Baillargeon, Bouchard , Zeron etc. have left.


01-27-2005, 11:46 PM
"or maybe they are French Canadian"

Your question has more depth than you realize!

It's the Canadian's and not the French to which your question applies.

Two of the greatest horsemn ever (and many other) came from Canada!
Keith Waples and Joe O'Brien. Both Hall of Fame Inductee's in both the Canada and the U.S.

The list is limitless.
Roger Brown, Ron Feagan and Shelly Goudreau all died young.

Keith Waples chose to remain close to home and family else he may have been the most successful Standardbred horseman ever. Not to say that his efforts were medicore.

From the Maritimes to the Western shores of Candada they have both populated and excelled in North American harness racing.

Who knows?
Maybe they just have the gene or the natural god-given ability.
Maybe there just harder workers?

In any event, over time, they out-shine the majority of US horsemen.

01-28-2005, 08:42 PM
I'm quite sure that "411" was questioning the fact that so many drivers in the sport of harness racing have french names.

Québec harness racing has quite a rich history. After all, you don't see too many places where the harness game thrived for many years while the thoroughbreds packed up and left, never to return. Although, there has been some talk to bringing the runners back to Aylmer (Connaught Park).

If the purses weren't so low there, many of the drivers that you see today at US tracks other than The Meadowlands would probably have stayed up there. It's been a long and drawn out soap opera in La Belle Province. I mean geez, have you seen the entries at Yonkers lately? I've started to call it "Blue Bonnets South".

01-28-2005, 08:58 PM
Hello Zman,
My point was that far reaching hands of Canadian horsemen into the US extends much farther than the borders of Quebec.

I could have provide a list of names with much more depth, it just didn't seem necessary to me to go much farther than Keith Waples, who I doubt many today are even aware of :)

Any yet most any Canadian horsemen will tell you that Keith was one of their legends. Even Herve states that!

All one needs to do is look at the Canadian Hall of Fame:
Some Canaidans were not even inducted into Canada's HOF because they participated primarily in the US.

If that's not enough prove?
Look at all the names in the US HOF that have a "Maple Leaf" after their name"


01-30-2005, 10:45 AM
Connaught Park

I have a nice photo of Jack Kopas and Super Wave from the article below (if anybody is interested, email me).

Super Wave Wins Connaught Cup In 2:00 2/5 Track Record

Dr. George K. Boyce's Super Wave, with Jack Kopas at the helm, won the $7,500 Connaught Cup Sunday afternoon, July 19, in 2:002/5 to obliterate the Ottawa, Canada area half-mile track's standard of 2:013/5 established almost two years ago to the day by Replica Herbert.

The 4-year-old son of Shadow Wave-Savilla Song dogged pacesetting Commander Dell, through the first threequarters of the mile while that Poplar Dell gelding cut out fractions of :294/5, 1:004/5, and 1:312/5.

Super Wave sprang into the lead turning for home, and covered his last panels in 29 seconds flat to gain a 2-length score. Little Jerry Way, handled by Herve Fillion, moved out of third at the same time Super Wave launched his and he too overtook Commander Dell but was unable to endanger the eventual winner.

Canny Choice finished fourth, one-quarter of a length behind Commander Dell with Earlylakes John fifth and last.

It was one of the biggest days of the year at the Aylmer, Que. course, which is rapidly approaching the end of its 1970 meeting. Although he missed in the feature, Herve Filion pleased a record throng of 4,870 with a triple, winning the fourth with Coppersmith, the fifth with Dark Flash, and the eighth with Keystone Song, his 199th, 200th, and 20 1 st victories of the season which put him ahead of his own World's Record pace at this juncture in the 1968 campaign when he wound up with 407 winning drives.

Dark Flash, Filion's second winner, trotted in 2:064/5, the best effort at the lateral gait during the meeting.

The state of Canada's depressed economy has been mirrored somewhat in the mutuel statistics at Connaught. Despite a record crowd on Sunday the total mutuel handle amounted to $155,978, more than $44,000 off the track's record handle.

Jack Kopas, Super Wave and the Connaught Cup after Kopas gu ided Super Wave to a track record 2:002/5 in the $7,500 Connaught up Invitation Pace Sunday afternoon, July 19 at the Ottawa, Ont. area raceway. The race attracted a record 4,870 fans.

02-12-2005, 01:39 AM

I don't follow harness racing much anymore, but I'm new to the PA board and was browsing through all thefeatures when a few names brought back some memories, both good and bad. I knew Ron Waples from the Meadowlands and wondered if Keith was a father or relative. If so, class and talent run in the family. One of my sadder memories was brought up when I noticed Shelly Goudreau's name. What a shame his passing was. I owned a few horses and raced at the Med. in the late 70's. One night, early 1980, Shelly had the catch-drive and put our horse on the lead right at the start. He backed the pace down to some ridiculous fraction at the half when nobody challenged, and coasted home. The horse wasn't a favorite, but not a big price either, yet the judges called Shelly, the trainer and myself before them. Ultimately, they suspended Shelly for a week. I wrote a number of letters to the press, Sports Eye, track management and the judges, blasting the rule and their decision. I explained that Cordero would have been showered with praise at Aqueduct if he throttled the pace down in similar fashion, but I received no satisfaction. Right after that incident I sold off all horses and went full time with the T-Breds. Shelly was a great guy and a tremendous talent. I never knew he was elected into the hall of fame until I read your post tonight. Shortly after I left the business Shelly married the daughter of the then publicity director of the Med. I thought they had it made. Just a shame. Thanks for the memories.


02-12-2005, 02:17 AM


02-12-2005, 06:47 AM
Hey Speedking,
Keith is Ron's uncle.

I have a 70's Hoof Beats article digitised, which inlcudes some decent photo's of Shelly and wife at their, then home.

If you use the contact at the Keith Waples page bottom, I'll email you the Goudreau article and photo's.

The sport has lost some amazingly talented horsemen in tragedies.


02-12-2005, 09:17 AM
Zafonic, Wilderness,

Thanks for the links and info.

Wilderness, please excuse my ignorance, but do I click on the webmaster link or a different one?


02-12-2005, 09:23 AM
My apolgies speedking.

The webmaster link is what your looking for.

On the majority of my pages I have renamed the webmaster link to "Contact".
Apparently I missed this one.