The Canadian driver won his first two drives Friday at the Indiana track after temporarily relocating while racing in Ontario is shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
by James Platz
Canadian reinsman Louis-Philippe Roy didn’t waste any time reaching the winner’s circle at Harrah’s Hoosier Park, Friday night (April 23). He collected victories in his first two trips behind the gate, steering I’vegotagirlcrush to a 1:51.3 triumph in the night’s first race before returning two races later with Pauly Wally as a quarter-length victor. Roy is one of several high-profile Ontario-based horsemen seeking opportunities in the United States while racing is shuttered north of the border. The 31-year-old O’Brien Award winner had not planned to leave Toronto, but a call from trainer Robert Fellows prompted the move.
“He contacted me Sunday and asked if I was willing to go down there with his horses,” Roy said. “I wasn’t planning something, but when Robert asked, it was a good opportunity and I went.”
The Fellows stable will race a dozen horses at Hoosier Park with Roy as pilot. Friday night, Roy guided 6-year-old gelding pacer Notaword N to a runner-up finish, with two other Fellows entries placing in the money. Roy has steadily moved his way up the ladder in Canada, so he knows the challenges of relocating to a new track and generating business.
“It is exciting to move to a new place, drive different horses, and get that experience,” he said. “I was surprised to end up with as many live horses on the first night.”
In the five drives he picked up Friday, Roy registered two wins, and a second, with two finishing out of the money. Only one entry went off as the post time favorite, third race winner Pauly Wally, an 8-year-old Shadow Play gelding out of the Missy Essig barn. Hoosier horseman Trent Stohler listed the driver on winner and Real Desire homebred I’vegotagirlcrush after regular driver John DeLong chose off for favored Bro in Friday’s first race.
“I never used him until last night. When we raced in Canada it was a few years before he moved to Woodbine,” said Stohler. “I don’t blame them for moving around and trying to make a living. It’s nice to have another guy that is more than capable.”
Stohler said that Roy’s arrival may spice things up in Hoosier Park’s driving colony.
“My loyalty is to John (DeLong) first and foremost,” the trainer said. “But some of our trainers have multiple horses in races, and that could create some opportunities. I think you’ll see him listed as backup on a lot of different horses next week.”
Stohler listed Roy as backup on an entry Saturday night, and put the driver down on one horse Wednesday, as well as backup on another. All told, the driver had seven opportunities Saturday night and recorded a win, third and a fourth.
While Roy is just getting started at Hoosier Park, his goal is an abbreviated stint in Indiana. Business has brought him here, but he is anxious to see the shutdown lifted and racing return in Canada, much like many of his displaced colleagues. He has six young horses in training in Toronto accumulating bills with each passing day.
“This is the third time they have shut the racing down there. The first and second time lasted around three months. Now, not knowing when we will be back racing, we need to work, financially and mentally,” he said. “Hopefully this is for a short period of time. I wish we would start back racing in Toronto as soon as possible.”
Until then, Ontario’s loss is Hoosier Park’s gain.