He comes from a family that loves horse racing, but Dale Desruisseaux’s first foray into the working world was a little different.

“I owned a pizza restaurant when I was 18 years old,” said the resident of Smithville, ON. “My parents always had a horse or two so racing was always part of my life.”

Thoroughbreds were in his blood so he bought his own yearling at a sale when he was still in his teens and his father, Allen, who still trains today, and mother, Cathy, helped guide him through his early years in racing.

Dale worked his way up the racetrack ranks and graduated to trainer in 2011. And the first winner he saddled that July, Cox’s Event, edged a horse trained by none other than his dad in a maiden allowance at Fort Erie.

It was at Fort Erie where Desruisseaux met his wife, Jeanette Warner, daughter of trainer Robert Warner, and the couple now have two young children, Dawson and Daynica.

The Desruisseaux stable, which is now based at Woodbine, has gradually increased in  number of horses, starters and quality runners in the few years since he began training. It was the work he did with the gelding Eminent Force in 2017-2019 that showed that the young trainer knew his way around a horse.

Claimed for $32,000, Eminent Force, a son of War Front, won two races off the claim for Desruisseaux and partners Solo Racing and James Schlehr before he was claimed from them for $62,500. They soon claimed the gelding back for that same price and won two more races with the turf specialist.

Last season during the shortened Woodbine meeting, Desruisseaux turned heads when he sent out Bernie Kooner’s Above All Names, a filly he was managing for her B.C. trainer Steve Bryant, to two allowance wins.

Smithville’s Dale and Jeanette Desruisseaux with Daynica and Dawson. (photo courtesy Dale Desruisseaux)

Picking out prospects at sales has become a specialty for Desruisseaux and it was a $4,000 buy at Keeneland January 2020 that has the trainer excited. Dictate, a well-bred Hard Spun filly who was a three-year-old offered as a racing or broodmare prospect, caught the eye of Jeanette at the sale and the couple scooped her up. In just her second start for the stable and co-owner Peter DiSalvo, Dictate won a maiden allowance/optional claiming Oct. 24 at Woodbine on the grass with a good 77 Beyer Speed Figure, according to Daily Racing Form.

“She is a big filly who has high cruising speed,” said Desruisseaux. “She is a route horse and really, since she only started twice last year, she was mentally more like a two-year-old than a three-year-old.”

Desruisseaux has a couple of maiden three-year-olds in his barn and is hopeful they will win early in 2021. Working the Table, an $11,000 purchase by Outwork, finished fourth in the Victoria Stakes in his career debut and third in a maiden allowance in his second start.

Ontario-bred and sired Breathlessnthesand, a son of first year sire Ami’s Holiday, was picked up for just $4,000 at the CTHS mixed sale in 2019 and showed promise despite plenty of tough trips in his first season of racing last year.

“I really liked him last year,” said Desruisseaux. “He was fourth to [eventual Grade 1 winner] Gretzky the Great first time out but then had a really wide trip in the Simcoe Stakes in his next start.”

With the lucrative new stakes package for Ontario-sired three-year-olds offered by Ontario Racing and Woodbine this year, Desruisseaux hopes the Megan Allan-bred will be a good fit for those races.

And almost half of the trainer’s 2021 stable is made up of two-year-olds, including two that he noted he quite likes ‒Swinging Mindy, a daughter of Giant Gizmo and Perfect Picture, a son of first-year sire Klimt.

Much like a number of other trainers with smaller stables at Woodbine, Desruisseaux shares in the ownership of his runners.

“Most trainers are not making money on the day rate,” “At least if you own part of the horse you can share in any purses.”

Based on his track record in his first few years as a trainer and owner, Dale Desruisseaux and his horses are ones to watch at Woodbine in 2021.