Horse statue at Fort Erie Racetrack a tribute to local old-time crowd-pleaser

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Published November 15, 2021 at 10:53 am

The horse behind the beautiful statue next to the walking ring of the Fort Erie Racetrack may ring a bell and some fond memories to old-timers but to new racing aficionados, it may be a bit of a puzzle.

Twenty years ago on October 28, 2001, a chestnut colt owned by William Scott made its debut at Fort Erie Racetrack and while it didn’t win that race, by his third race, it galloped to the winner’s circle.

The difference between Le Cinquieme Essai (French for “fifth try”) and the others at the starting gate was simply that the colt was local, making him an instant crowd-pleaser in Fort Erie.

And less than a year later, he stunned the Fort Erie faithful after being an underdog in the 2002 $500,000 Prince of Wales Stakes, the second jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown, by winning it outright. The irony? It was his fifth start… his ‘fifth try.’

Newspapers called him the “The Prince of Fort Erie” and reported that he had a standing ovation all the way back to the barn.

His trainer at the time, Paul Nielsen, told the papers, “They had a great crowd that year and I think it helped that he was a local horse. I always remember when he won and I went down to collect the horse, the crowd just went wild.”

While he would continue most of his career at Woodbine Racetrack, there was always a few returns to Fort Erie, including victories in the 2004 International Turf Cup Stakes and the 2005 Daryl Wells Sr. Memorial Stakes.

He was solid at Woodbine as well, securing back-to-back victories in the 2006 and 2007 Gr.2 Play the King Stakes up there.

In September 2008, at the age of nine, he retired with earnings over $1 million.

The statue of Le Cinquieme Essai and jockey Steven Bahen, designed by sculptor Don Begg, was donated to track by the owners, William and Anne Scott, who, in turn, were honoured by the track with a plaque acknowledging their contribution.

(All photos courtesy of Fort Erie Racetrack)

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