Richard Moreau has heard from a couple of people that he's unlikely to be named Canada's trainer of the year for 2021, despite the fact he once again led the nation by a wide margin in wins (236) and purse earnings ($3.7 million) and has been the voters' choice for the past eight years.
He's fine with it.
"Until it's official, you never know, but it wouldn't surprise me. Win or lose, I'll live with the result. There's other people in the game. I have a lot of respect for Nick Gallucci (the other finalist). He has quality stock, good methods. For my part, I did what I could. We had a good year," the 57-year-old Quebec native said from his farm in Puslinch, Ont.
An O'Brien finalist for 10 consecutive years, Moreau had another productive campaign in 2021. His 50-horse stable included three O'Brien Award finalists: three-year-old trotter Fashion Frenzie, older pacer Wheels On Fire and trotting mare Grandma Heidi.
Fashion Frenzie's wins in the $240,000 Goodtimes final and $225,000 Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final were high points for a high-volume operation that grinds out most of its money in overnight races at several tracks with a cast of horses that changes weekly. The Archangel gelding made $524,910 with top-two finishes in nine of 12 starts.
"Francis (Richard, the co-owner) picked him out and broke him. I got him ready-made (at 2)," Moreau said.
Wheels On Fire, a seven-year-old Somebeachsomewhere gelding, earned $282,560 with 23 top-three finishes in 27 races, providing a nice return on his $125,000 (U.S.) purchase price for owner Brad Grant.
"He's so big, we had to get an oversized sulky for him. He didn't fit in a regular one," Moreau said. "It's not easy for other horses to keep up with that stride."
Grandma Heidi collected $126,625 with 19 top-three finishes in 32 appearances, with her most recent appearance coming in a winning effort at Woodbine Mohawk Park on Dec. 8.
Moreau, who hasn't had a vacation in two years, said he maintains his demanding schedule because he still enjoys the work and has goals he'd like to reach. One of those was having his own farm; it came true. What's the current one? An oceanside retreat in sunny climes. "To be able to retire comfortably by the water someday...that's my dream."
The 2021 O'Brien Award winners will be announced at the 2021 Virtual O’Brien Awards Gala on Sunday, February 6, 2022, which will be video streamed on standardbredcanada.ca.
(A Trot Insider exclusive by Paul Delean)