History of the Trois-Rivières Racetrack

The Hippodrome Trois-Rivières dates back to 1830 when a wealthy businessman from Trois-Rivières by the name of Moses Hart converted a large parcel of land into a track for racing horses. The first horse races took place in October that same year.

Benefiting from the cultural influence of the English, the first races, which involved horses ridden by horsemen and thoroughbred racing, soon won acclaim when on June 13, 1836, His Majesty King William IV donated 50 guineas (about $350) to a special race. A few years later when the number of devoted fans of thoroughbred racing in Trois-Rivières declined, harness racing took over and became more popular.

Horse races were organized by the Three Rivers Turf Club in the 1850s, the Saint-Maurice Turf Club in the 1860s, and even by racing enthusiasts who simply announced races in the local papers, attracting large crowds to the Trois-Rivières racetrack.

In 1896, the Trois-Rivières agricultural association acquired a large tract of land including the mile-long racetrack to develop exhibition grounds. On adjacent land, horse stables were erected by the exhibition company, which organized horse races along with occasional cycle races.

The grandstand, which was expanded in 1900 then renovated in 1916 by the new municipal exhibition board, burned to the ground in an hour on June 17, 1931. A few years later in 1938, new concrete grandstands were built under a public works program initiated by the Maurice Duplessis government. That basic structure still stands today.

In 1951, a lighting system was installed for night-time horseracing, and new stables were also built. From the early 1950s, the racetrack experienced a real boom, primarily under the direction of the Club de Courses Laviolette managed by Charles-Henri Coté, who leased the track from the City for a number of years. Pari-mutuel wagering took off and the business brought in tax money for all three levels of government. It was a golden age for Hippodrome 3R, when Adélard (Del) Dugré served as the voice of horseracing in the Mauricie region.

On June 12, 1970, a tragedy struck again when 84 horses perished in a fire that caused $500,000 in damages.

The following summer $1.5 million was invested to build new concrete stables. And at the same time a new illuminated tote board was installed, track lighting was improved and a few upgrades were made to the stands. In 1978, a section of the stands was glassed in.

In 1989, $2.8 million was invested by the municipal board in charge of racetrack operations to build a faster track with the appropriate slopes and smoother corners.

In January 1992, another devastating fire killed 90 horses. The general manager at the time Michel Giguère started rebuilding right away. Not a minute was lost. Although the fire occurred on Sunday evening the race program for the following Tuesday evening went ahead as planned.

In the summer 1993, SONACC acquired the Trois-Rivières racetrack then resold it in 2006 to Attractions Hippiques. The Quebec Jockey Club purchased the racetrack in 2012 in pursuit of its mission to relaunch horseracing following the bankruptcy of Attractions Hippiques, and turned Hippodrome 3R into the only active racetrack in Quebec. Horse races are now presented twice a week from May to October.