02/24/2017 3:37AM

Barnsdale: Roy is making a name for himself on the WEG circuit

New Image Media
Louis-Philippe Roy has been making a name for himself on the WEG circuit in 2017.

This year’s O’Brien award Future Star winner, Louis Philippe Roy, is living up to the definition of the award, as he has made a seamless move to the biggest circuit in Canada this winter.

Roy, 27, who hails from the small Quebec town of Mont Jolie, currently sits second in the Woodbine standings, having won 18 races from 111 drives (through February 15) since the start of 2017, trailing only runaway leading driver Doug McNair, who has steered 43 winners. Driving mainly for trainer Rene Allard, Roy’s drives have amassed more than $240,000 in the first six weeks of the year.

Roy, who was leading driver at Hippodrome 3R and Rideau Carlton last year, commutes back and forth to Quebec once a week to keep the home fires burning. “I live here (Toronto area) from Thursday to Monday, then I go back because my girlfriend is in Montreal,” he explained.

Roy says he plans on moving close to Mohawk for the summer meet if business keeps up and hopefully he can bring his girlfriend with him. “I’ll try, but I made her move from Mont Jolie to Montreal eight months ago for the races,” he chuckled. “She wants me to be sure that I am going to stay here for a long time before she moves again.”

The young driver is clearly thrilled to win an O’Brien award so early in his career. “It’s only a year ago when I was watching the Woodbine races on the internet and the drivers were like NHL stars to me. Now here I am with them,” said Roy. “To see some of my role models in harness racing made it a fun night (at the awards dinner).”

Roy, who started driving on the Quebec fair circuit when he was 18 years old, has only been driving professionally for three years. He drove his first winner in his initial year on the fair circuit and he remembers it well.

“The horse’s name was Golden Vanity, a horse I owned with my brother and father,” he recalled. “It was the first good one that we had, so he is kind of a special horse to us.”

Despite having enjoyed early success on the Woodbine/Mohawk circuit, Roy says there is a noticeable difference in the caliber of driver there versus what he experienced on the fair circuit back home. “The drivers here don’t make many mistakes,” said Roy. “So, you have to be alert and make sure you make good decisions and limit your own mistakes.”

He lists driver Pascal Berube, who also hailed from Mont Jolie, as his idol growing up. “It’s a small town and I knew him, so I always followed him and he was a leading driver at some of the Quebec tracks,” said Roy.

Roy called the now-retired Domethatagain, who he tripped-out perfectly to win his final race last Saturday at Woodbine in 1:50 4/5 before going off to stud, as the best horse he has driven in his career.

“I feel a bit of pressure tonight,” admitted Roy before the race. “I hope I don’t give him a bad trip.”

Clearly he didn’t and he was greeted by jubilant connections in the winner’s circle to celebrate the son of Bettor’s Delight’s 27th and final career win.

Like most other Canadian drivers, the North America Cup is the race that Roy says he would most like to win, but part of the reason is that he prefers driving pacers over trotters.

“From where I come from, there are only pacers,” he revealed. “I just started driving trotters a couple of years ago when I started as a professional driver. There were no trotters on fair tracks. It kind of feels like driving a manual car (trotter) versus an automatic (pacer).”

One thing that has been automatic so far for Roy has been that success has come naturally. Wherever he plies his trade, the personable teamster is one to watch in the years to come.