J-F Gagne has always taken care of the ladies in his life. After all, they’ve taken good care of him over the years. One of them is his wife, Marjorie Dumont, who has borne him two children and who takes care of the farm near Wetaskiwin. The others are the four-legged variety. There are several of them but the two most prominent are Tajmeallover and Outlaw Fireball. The older mare is closing in on a quarter million dollars in career earnings. The 3 year old is following along nicely on the same path.
“I guess I first met Marjorie when she first came west to work as a groom in Vancouver and in Edmonton,” related Gagne, as we stood in the shadow of a hot Sunday sun at Century Downs. “Her mother had trained and raced trotters out of the Montreal area where she grew up, so she knew horses. She went back east and spent several years working for a number of large stables in New Jersey, Florida, and Toronto. But we kept in touch and got together once she decided to come back to the west in 2006. We now have two children: Julia, who is three and a half, and Gabriel, who is just over year old. They keep Marjorie pretty busy, but we have a baby sitter during the day so that she can supervise the staff and run the barn while I take care of shoeing, training, and, of course, driving.”
“She wound up getting her trainer’s license when I was racing some of the horses at Fraser Downs and she had the rest of the stable in Alberta. We weren’t allowed to put me down as trainer of record for the stable in Alberta while I was racing in BC. So she took out her trainer’s license. We’ve just kept everything in place since then. She still rubs horses at the farm. And when I’m training a young horse, she can jump in a bike and provide a really good rated mile. If I ask her for a certain pace and a certain time for the final quarter, she can deliver it without any trouble at all. That’s not something to take for granted. We’re very much a partnership and we get a lot accomplished with horses before they ever get to the races.”
Clearly, those horses are getting a lot accomplished at the track too. Tajmeallover, now 6, has a 4-2-1 log from 9 starts so far this year and has piled up $26,317 in earnings. She’s a terror, invariably coming from off the pace to overtake the leaders in the stretch. She’s won 33 times in 61 lifetime starts and earned $235,683 – and counting. Outlaw Fireball, which has won 3 times in four starts in 2017, has seasonal earnings of $65,425 and career earnings of $150,389. She’s already won the Alberta Princess and the Meridian Breeders Stakes this spring and she’ll be looking to add to that resume this coming weekend.
The Alberta Diamond for 3 year old fillies on Saturday and the Alberta Marksman for the colts and geldings on Sunday marks the resumption of the Alberta Sire Stakes program. This will be the second of three stakes in each category leading to the Super Finals to be held at Northlands Park in Edmonton. Following the Alberta Princess final on June 3rd, Outlaw Fireball, Steady Breeze and Stylomilohos were the top three fillies in terms of eligible money won. A total of twenty fillies have earned dollars through the first round. There will be many more that have yet to start or that have dreams of being in the eight at the end of the third stake, which would qualify them for the championship division on Oct. 28th. The championship race carries a purse of $80,000. The next eight go to the consolation final that same day with that race going for $15,000.
Outlaw Fireball and Wedding Dance staged a fabulous duel in the stretch on Canada Day in the final of the Meridian Breeders Stake. Fireball prevailed by a neck with Steady Breeze finishing third. All three names are likely to be in the entry box on Wednesday morning for the Alberta Diamond.
The Alberta Diamond eliminations will go on Saturday afternoon at Century Downs. The final is a week later, on July 15th.
As for the boys, the eligibility numbers are down a bit this year and only 10 colts have earned money in the Alberta Plainsman series which finished on June 4th. Mateo, Ima Dude and Retros Mystery are the top three heading into Sunday’s eliminations of the Alberta Marksmen. Seven different colts which are eligible for the Marksman, paced in the Brad Gunn Breeders final on Canada Day with Mateo finishing second to Da Magician which is not eligible for the Marksman. So, it’s a competitive bunch and we might see a few others which weren’t ready for the Plainsman, emerge as contenders beginning this weekend.
The whole key is to hold position among the top 8 on the money list, and to try to get onto that list if you are not already there. The Marksmen is the second of three qualifying stakes to determine position in the championship and consolation stakes at the Super Finals in October.
Through Monday, Mike Hennessy continues to lead the drivers in dash wins, 58-52 over Brandon Campbell. Kelly Hoerdt leads Rod Hennessy 48-32 among the trainers. But more and more of the smaller stables are registering some good numbers this year. Marjorie Dumont is 9th among the trainers, but given some of the stars in the Dumont-Gagne stable, she’s got an 11-7-7 log from 41 starters and a UTRS rating of .420. She’s also overseeing the most important category and that is money earned: $129,472 and counting. Gagne is 11th among drivers but has a respectable 12-8-10 record from just 56 starts and a UDRS rating of .353… lots of folks are looking for horses and that’s leading to a bit more claiming locally. Christine Cutting paid $10,000 to halter Withflyingcolours out of Keith Clark’s barn. Brandon Campbell now has Southwind Jaden in his shed row after two of his owners spent $5,000 on the veteran competitor. Campbell, by the way, put on his brand new Team Canada colours and raced in them on Canada Day. He got soaked thanks to a sudden downpour. Campbell will represent Canada at the World Drivers Challenge which begins August 12th at Century Downs... pari-mutuel numbers continue to move upwards at Century Downs. Crowds are getting better too as the weather improves and as fields get larger and stronger. The 3-day-a-week schedule of racing will soon be enhanced as the 2 year olds begin their racing careers. At least a dozen of them qualified on the weekend. Their first stakes events are the Emerald Filly for the girls and the Century Bets for the boys, both part of a massive day of stakes events set for the Civic Monday, August 7th. The finals of the Lady Luck and the Ralph Klein for the 3 year olds are on the same day. Those 2 year olds which qualified on the weekend are going to want at least one start before August 7th.