by Dean Hoffman
Quebec was home for Grades Singing. Although she was a daughter of the New York sire Texas, she was a Montreal girl in every way. She was bred by Quebec residents and took her first tentative steps on the track at Blue Bonnets Raceway in Montreal.
She developed into an outstanding stakes filly in 1984-85 and then graduated into the ranks of older mares with ease. All Grades Singing did is win. So her owners confidently entered her in the first-ever Breeders Crown for older trotting mares at Scioto Downs in September, 1986. Bettors sent her off at 1-2 odds.
She didn’t disappoint. She marched to the front for driver Herve Filion and won by 1-1/4 lengths over Davidia Hanover, trained and driven by Per Eriksson.
During the 1987 season, owner Gratien Deschene sold his prize mare to Swedish interests. She raced so well in Europe that they decided to ship her back to Ohio for another Breeders Crown, this one held on the half-mile track at Northfield Park.
The result was the same. Grades Singing won by 3-1/4 lengths over Scenic Regal for her Swedish trainer and driver Olle Goop.
Scenic Regal was not nominated for the 1988 Breeders Crown for trotting mares, but when it was announced that the 1989 event would be contested at her former home track Blue Bonnets, the temptation was too much to resist.
Grades Singing was now 7 years old and had raced long and hard all over Europe in recent years. Could she possibly still be good enough to beat the best in North America?
Many people formerly associated with Grades Singing in Quebec made a pilgrimage to Blue Bonnets to see their beloved bay mare. Emotions were high on the eve of her homecoming.
Once again, Grades Singing didn’t disappoint. She simply stepped to the front and led all the way to win by a length over Scenic Regal.
“She is enormous,” said Goop after the victory. “She’s done it again.”
Former owner Gratien Deschene was moved to tears as he greeted his former star after the race.
Grades Singing became the first female ever to win three Breeders Crowns. When she retired, Grades Singing had a slate of 84 victories in 148 races with 21 second-place finishes and a dozen third-place finishes.