Skip to content

Area man's horse races to King's Plate win

'We couldn’t believe that the little guy, the nobodies, pulled it off,' says Orillia's Mike Langlois

Mike Langlois, a co-owner of King’s Plate winner Paramount Prince, is not a lifelong racing participant.

The financial services advisor originally from Brampton has owned two racehorses, and Paramount Prince’s victory was just his 14th start as an owner.

So, you can understand why he was up early the morning of the $1-million first jewel of the Canadian Triple Crown presented by OLG.

“I slept well, but I didn’t sleep a lot,” said Langlois. “I only slept for about two hours and got up around four in the morning. I was so emotional. I can’t even tell you. I had tears in my eyes, and I was a mess.”

Langlois turned to Facebook to help calm his nerves. He composed a post thanking everyone for their support and expressing his excitement. The journalling helped and Langlois pulled himself together for the day ahead.

The King’s Plate is the pinnacle of Canadian horse racing and every horse in the field has taken a long road to get there.

Paramount Prince’s story began at the Stouffville farm of breeder Ericka Rusnak. He is the fifth foal out of the Eddington mare Platinum Steel, and is by Ontario Sire Society’s Chairman.

“I’ve been breeding for about 20 years now and he’s probably one of the toughest babies that I’ve owned and bred,” said Rusnak. “He just had a lot of personality, and was unique and special in that way and very athletic looking.”

Rusnak entered Paramount Prince in the 2021 Canadian Premier Yearling Sale, where Langlois and Jamie Attard, a childhood friend of Langlois’s late son, Roger, purchased Paramount Prince from Rusnak after he didn’t meet his reserve price.

It marked the next step on Langlois’s ownership journey that began by claiming a horse for Attard’s stable a few months earlier. He wanted to help out the trainer who he reconnected with after his son’s passing in 2017.

“It made me feel closer to the old times because me and him spent a lot of time reminiscing about when he and Roger were kids,” said Langlois.

Attard brought Paramount Prince along slowly. He didn’t debut until November of 2022, when he romped to a nine-length victory and attracted interest from leading owner Gary Barber.

Langlois was hesitant about making a deal because it would move Paramount Prince from Attard’s barn to Mark Casse’s, and supporting Attard was the reason he purchased the horse.

“Jamie was the one who said, ‘You have to take the offer,’” said Langlois. “He said it’s the best thing for the horse because of the facilities and everything he will have access to.”

Paramount Prince transferred barns, and Langlois became partners with two of the most recognizable names in North American racing.

Casse has won 12 straight Sovereign Awards as Canada’s top trainer, and is a dual Canadian and American Hall of Famer. He told Langlois that it doesn’t matter if he has an owner with one horse or 10; they’re all his clients and he treats them the same way.

“He has held true to his word and has been so good to me,” said Langlois. “All of the guys, Gary and Mark, they treat me like part of the team.”

So, it was Langlois’s first King’s Plate, but alongside Casse and Barber, who won the Queen’s Plate in 2014 with Lexie Lou and 2018 with Wonder Gadot.

After watching the first seven races on the Plate card, Langlois went to the paddock to visit Paramount Prince. He calls ‘Paramount’ his baby, going against one of the first things Sid Attard told him about the racing game: Don’t fall in love with every one of your horses.

“I like to build relationships with whoever I deal with, and I loved Paramount Prince even before this,” said Langlois. “I go and see him every week. In the paddock before the King’s Plate, I went up and told him, ‘I believe in you,’ and my wife said, ‘He’s staring right at you. He knows you.’ I told her I have been trying to build that relationship with him, and let him know it isn’t just about money; we really care about him.”

When the gate opened Paramount Prince broke alertly, and Patrick Husbands put him on the lead. The pair controlled the pace, and held off a stretch-drive challenge from Elysian Field to win by a length and a half.

“I just couldn’t believe it. I said to (my wife) Charmaine, ‘We won, we won,’ and we both started crying. We couldn’t believe that the little guy, the nobodies, pulled it off. I was just shocked,” said Langlois.

A trip to the winner’s circle, and Woodbine’s Northern Dancer room to celebrate among friends and family, followed. Among the surreal moments was someone asking him to sign their King’s Plate program.

“I said, ‘You’re joking. My signature isn’t worth anything,’ and they said, ‘Yes, it is. I get everyone to sign my King’s Plate program.’ Someone took a picture of it, and my grandson was, like, ‘Papa is famous now,’” chuckled Langlois.

It takes a team effort to put any horse in the winner’s circle, never mind win the King’s Plate, and Langlois is so appreciative of Casse and Barber and the success their partnership has created.

He downplayed his own involvement, but when he was on the phone with Attard, his first call after the race, Paramount Prince’s first trainer noted how critical Langlois’s patience was to the gelding’s development.

“I told him, ‘So what. I paid some bills,’” said Langlois. “What Jamie said is owners can be very pushy. As soon as they see a horse, they want it ready. He said, ‘We didn’t run for a year. You stayed patient, and let him grow, let him get us ready and look what you got.’”

Paramount Prince is pointing towards the Prince of Wales Stakes on Sept. 12 at Fort Erie Race Track and Langlois is looking forward to another incredible experience. When he asked Charmaine how he has been so lucky, she said it’s because he has done everything for the right reasons.

His first goal was to help Attard. Then he was happy to support Rusnak, a smaller breeder dealing with the financial realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he listened to Attard’s advice and did what was best for the horse by accepting Barber’s deal.

“You don’t get into this business to make money; you do it because you love it,” said Langlois. “When I look at the entertainment value my friends and family have had visiting the horse, and watching all the races, it is worth every penny.”