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Guy Gagnon: Rideau’s top-shelf reinsman

By Chris Lomon / @ChrisLomon
 
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He might not hear chants of ‘Guy! Guy!’ like Hockey Hall of Fame legend Guy Lafleur often did, but lover of all things hockey Guy Gagnon certainly deserves a shout-out for his standout Standardbred successes.
 
With over 5,100 driving wins, nearly 1,400 training victories, numerous driving titles and an O’Brien Award to his name, the man from Gatineau, Quebec has become one of Canada’s most accomplished horsemen.
 
Just don’t expect any big talk from Gagnon about his big-time accomplishments.
 
“First of all, it’s all about the team,” said the 2018 O’Brien Award of Horsemanship recipient. “And you also have to thank the horses as well. I work hard, but I have a great team that supports me. We work well together and we have a good system. We also have good owners, people who love the sport as much as we do. They give me lots of confidence. All of that helps us to have success.”
 
Last year, Gagnon once again put up some serious numbers competing at Rideau Carleton Raceway and Hippodrome 3R, topping the charts in driving at both tracks.
 
He finished 2018 with 209 driving wins and $1.1 million in earnings, along with 59 training triumphs and over $352,000 in earnings.
 
In July, at Hippodrome 3R, he collected his 5,000th career win, with family and friends on-hand to see him reach the milestone.
 
He came to the Quebec oval needing two wins to hit the mark, just days after an eight-win night at Rideau Carleton.
 
After teaming with Irish Master to take the fourth race by 9-1/4 lengths, Gagnon steered Evergreen Artist to victory in the eighth and final race on the card.


Celebrating win No. 4,500. Courtesy of Rideau Carleton.
 
“It was a great moment to share with the people I am the closest with,” he said. “It was a great night. It’s a number you dream of reaching, so it was nice to get there.”
 
But it was far from the only 2018 highlight for Gagnon.
 
He also won the Eastern Ontario / Quebec Regional Driving Championship (his third consecutive triumph after winning in 2014 and 2016).
 
“It feels great any time you win a race,” he said. “This sport, it is just so great in so many ways. I feel very fortunate to be part of it.”
 
Gagnon, who first sat in the racebike when he was 18, is still as driven as he’s ever been.
 
“Winning the O’Brien Award was very special,” he said. “I had never thought about that happening. A goal for me is that I would like to have a good horse, a really nice horse that could win a Gold Final or a Hambletonian, something like that. We buy a colt every year, this year we bought three, so the next step would be to see one of our horses on the big circuit.”
 
When he’s not reining in wins at the racetrack, Gagnon can be found behind the bench at local ice hockey rinks, coaching his 16-year-old son’s team.


 
“I really enjoy coaching my son, who is playing Midget AA. But I also love to play hockey, too. I play twice a week, just for fun. So, with the racing and hockey, the week is very full.”
 
Are Gagnon’s stickhandling and skating skills comparable to another Guy, namely, NHL legend, Lafleur?
 
“No way,” said the Quebec Nordiques fan, who idolized Hockey Hall of Famer Joe Sakic. “I’m not that good out there. But I enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun.”
 
Gagnon’s biggest thrills, however, will always come at the racetrack.
 
“Winning, it never gets old. You still get chills every time it happens.”
 

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