H3R gearing up for 2021 season

Trois-Rivieres, QC — The return of harness racing to the province of Quebec is just around the corner as the Hippodrome 3R will begin with qualifying races in April leading towards opening day on Sunday (May 2).

“I think we are in good shape to start on May 2,” said H3R Racing Director Murielle Thomassin. “Everything looks to be on schedule.

“We have already applied to the Quebec government to allow us to start the races. Right now, all our OTBs (Off-Track Betting parlors) are still closed since October because of COVID-19. We were able to race last season without spectators and I am sure that is the way we will have to start this season too.”

Also, a big problem the track faces is snow.

“All the snow has been removed from the track since last week,” Thomassin explained. “All we need is for the track to dry now. Then again, the forecast for this weekend is more snow and rain, but we are ready to handle it. Our track crew is very good.”

Provided Mother Nature cooperates to some degree, H3R will try and offer horse people the opportunity to qualify three times before the start of the pari-mutuel race season. Those tentative dates (weather permitting) are April 10, 17 and 24, all Saturdays. For a complete calendar of race dates and qualifiers, click here.

Throughout the season that goes until Sunday (Nov. 7), H3R will race every Sunday, post time 12:30 p.m. and on Fridays from June 11 through Aug. 27, post time at 4 p.m.

In June the stakes races in Quebec will begin to take place for the 2- and 3-year-old trotters and pacers. Both the Breeders Trophy Series (3-year-olds) and Future Stars Series (2-year-olds) will have three preliminary legs followed by a final for the top eight point earners. All eight of the finals will be held on Sunday (Sept. 12). This is the richest day of racing in all of Quebec with more than C$500,000 in purses.

The Quebec-Bred Series for the older trotters and pacers was not held last year but is hopeful to return in 2021

“It could happen this year,” Thomassin explained. “The Quebec Jockey Club board will decide on that after our season gets underway. If we can again have spectators for the races, if the ban is lifted and we can reopen our OTBs, if our handle is better, and it was great last year thanks to HPI, I am positive they will bring back the series.

“I think with most everyone scheduled to have had at least one vaccination shot by June 24 in Quebec, we now can see a little light at the end of the tunnel. We might even be able to have racing fans in the stands again, which would be the best.”

In 2020, die-hard H3R fans would drive to the backstretch of the track and park their cars near the fence so they could watch the races live.

“We made sure we had the outside speakers on last season,” Thomassin laughed, “so that those fans in the backstretch area could hear Guy Lafontaine’s race calls. I recently got a phone call from one fan who asked if they could come back for the races this year. When I told him not yet, he said that was OK as he would just drive to the backstretch and watch.”

For more information about the upcoming harness racing season at H3R, click here.

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