Success in racing is more than luck
Ownership of race horses is often a funny old game. Attaining success is fleeting and often frustrating to the point that many proclaim it to be the ultimate game of chance.
One who attests to that theory is Helene Filion of Mirabel, Quebec. She is coming off her best ever year owning horses and seems poised for a big 2017 including a possible start with her four-year-old pacer Endeavor in the Confederation Cup at Flamboro Downs in late May.
Interestingly, her success has all been in New York thanks to the efforts of The Real Deal who won $229,000 and Endeavor who banked $105,000. Both were raced there by New Jersey horseman Pat Lachance who grew up five minutes driving time from Filion.
“One day I got a phone call from here asking me if I would take The Real Deal and try him at Yonkers Raceway,” recalls Lachance.
“Obviously, I had never seen the horse so could only go by his race lines. He looked OK and said he was worth a bus ticket. But never did either of us think he would become the horse he is.”
Now seven, The Real Deal rose to be one of the top performers at the New York oval and in fact set the all age track record of 1:50 in November.
“He is maybe a step behind the likes of Wiggle It Jiggleit but on a week-in and week-out basis at New York he is a Saturday night special. He always comes to race and seldom goes home-empty handed. And Helene is the one who deserves all the credit. Whatever her horses need they get ... without question. It’s all about what’s best for the horse and there are not many people like that today.”
Filion was a former caretaker for noted Montreal horseman Robert Charron but in recent years has trained a small string of horses at a training f acility. She acquired The Real Deal in a private transaction from Ontario trainer Ben Baillargeon for several thousand dollars and that has turned into a bonanza.
“She raced him at Rideau Carleton and Hippodrome Trois Rivieres where he steadily improved to be a useful horse but now he is a lot more than that.”
And she struck again when she went yearling shopping in Harrisburg, Penn. The now retired Charron was her consultant in an effort to pick a yearling. Endeavor at $18,000 was the result. Modestly successful as a two-year-old, he struggled last year at three until fall, when he blossomed.
“I have no idea what happened but he just became another horse winning three in a row. We shut him down healthy and I’m really enthused about him for this year. He was sound and has now shown he’s got all the tools to have a big year. Likes the smaller tracks with a great gait and is very f ast. He has the chance to do some big things.”
Filion would qualify as an oldtime horse person. She does not short change herself or her horses by having too many. She knows her role is in developing them before turning them over to Lachance for the New York experience and she does not over-race them. It seems a simple formula but too few people in today’s game get it.
While many would say that she simply is lucky, Lachance declares her to simply be a person who understands horsemanship. Her horses do not win every race, which none ever do, but at the end of the day they stand pretty tall against the competition. Over a span of time, success has to be more than luck.