On busy Decarie Boulevard, in Montreal - Canada's largest city and the city on the North American continent with the questionable honour of having the highest average yearly snowfall- Blue Bonnets Raceway has become the main training centre of standardbreds in Canada.
Aerial shot of Montreal, tilt to Blue Bonnets Raceway
Aerial - exercising horses on track
MS horses and sulky pass camera
CS trainers watch
MS horses and drivers away from camera
MS horses pass snowbanks
MS horse and driver to barn
MS harness room
MCS sulky wiped down, stored
MCS checking over wheel of sulky
HS horse led out of stall
MCS groom brushes horse
CS groom brushes rump
MCS driver in warm suit adjusts horse's harness
MS trainer with horse, driver comes up
CS driver rubs horses muzzle, leads him out
MS horse and driver exercise, blustery weather
MS pan group of onlookers
MLS pan to LS horses pass on inside and outside of track
MCS two men and stop watch
MCS two horses, in follow shot
CS driver in raccoon coat
CS horses legs, tilt to head
CS driver in warm hat
MS pan group of horses pass camera
CS another driver, warmly dressed
CS faces, two men
CS stop watch
CS horse and shadow
CS driver, tilt to stop watch in his hand
MS several horses exercising on wintry track
MS horses pass quickly along track
CS pan faces of three men
MCS follow shot, horses and sulkies around bend
MS pan across row of trailers
MCS pan interior trailers, owners and trainers talking
MS on the track, horses round bend, zoom back to reveal empty snow covered grandstand.
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: On busy Decarie Boulevard, in Montreal - Canada's largest city and the city on the North American continent with the questionable honour of having the highest average yearly snowfall- Blue Bonnets Raceway has become the main training centre of standardbreds in Canada.
The racetrack, which has been in operation since 1907, was greatly improved in 1959 with a new grandstand and winter stabling facilities being built.There are now four double barns heated by propane gas (to 65 degrees Fahrenheit) and completely fireproof, with additional summer stalls being winterized so that a total of 450 horses can be accommodated during the winter.In the summer about 1,000 horses can be stabled.The area covered by the raceway is approximately 125 acres.There are two tracks, both being one-half mile in length - the racing strip 85' wide, and the training rack 50' wide.
There are two racetracks in Montreal - Blue Bonnets and Richelieu.Between them, they average 200 days of racing a year- of this number approximately 66 days are standardbred, and the remainder thoroughbreds.Naturally, they would like to extend the racing season and every means possible is begin employed to do so.This year, the harness racing season open at Richelieu on April 5th - the earliest ever and even if the pacers and trotters have to go clop-clop-cloppeting between snowbanks lining the perfect track.
At Montreal's 14 million Blue Bonnets, this has been the first mass winter training scheme, and it is rated as a resounding success, Until this winter, Florida has been regarded as the only logical place to keep top harness racers in top condition until spring.Many small owners in Ontario and Quebec have always kept their racers at home, but blizzards and mud have cut training.With the inception of the wintering facilities at Blue Bonnets and the assurance of uninterrupted training right up to the opening date of the season by operating snow clearance equipment all night during storms and the designing of the track for 90% drainage in the event of a sudden spring thaw.With Montreal pari-mutuels singing s 75 million annual tune, the importance of good, early season form is emphasized.Florida training brings horses to a peak that's often lost in transportation or by the shock of chilly spring weather.Further, it is estimated that it cost 10,000 more to winter-train a 15- horse stable in Florida.
In our story, we show the horses being trained in a variety of Canadian weather conditions (all within three days), one day when Montreal had a 15.3" snowfall.