From Hockey to Horse Racing: A Special Interview with Rich Pilon

Sep 20,2018 Lisa V

As someone who has played in the NHL for fifteen seasons, being involved in a competitive sport is not something that’s new to Rich Pilon, an owner and trainer of horses here at Century Downs Racetrack and Casino.

Pilon is from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and grew up in St. Louis, Saskatchewan. As a second-generation horseman, he currently has six horses here at Century Downs. “My father was into chuck wagons and I used to drive chariots as a kid. And then I got into hockey after that.” Pilon Said.

Pilon played in the NHL for fifteen seasons, mostly for the New York Islanders. He also played with the New York Rangers and the St. Louis Blues for a short amount of time.

Pilon spent his time in the NHL as a defenceman. “I left everything on the ice. My main goal was if I could keep the top guys off the scoreboard and get under the other teams’ skin, then I could get them thinking more about coming after me than winning the game,” Pilon explained.

Pilon never expected to get drafted to the NHL as he never even played junior hockey. Impressively, he is one of only two players to be drafted to the NHL out of a Midget ‘AAA’ ice hockey league. Ten days after he got drafted, Pilon was taking his first flight from Saskatoon to New York, which was quite a culture shock at first. Shortly after, he found himself playing on an NHL hockey team for the next fifteen years.

After struggling with substance abuse and becoming sober, Pilon volunteers his time for a program that uses hockey to encourage children ages eight to fourteen to avoid substance abuse.

We would like to thank Pilon for all of his dedication and hard work here at the racetrack. For more details on Pilon and his responsibilities, head over to Century Downs’ YouTube channel or Facebook page (@CenturyDowns) for the full video on this story.


If you are a Winners’ Zone member, don’t forget that you can join in on our Jackpot Mondays every Monday in September. Every hour, on the hour, from 1 p.m. – 8 p.m., choose from one of our jackpot envelopes, and you could instantly win up to $500 in slot play!

Join us for our 10 Days of Turkey hot seat draw. Win a free turkey on the hour, every hour, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from September 28 to October 7!

Watch and cheer on your favourite jockey as they race Thoroughbred and Quarter Horses to raise funds for prostate cancer on October 6!

Join us for our Autumn Carnival! Dress derby style for this high stakes race day featuring The Harvest Plate on October 8!

Join us for a Thanksgiving Dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on October 7 and 8! Enjoy a hearty three-course Thanksgiving Dinner special in the Mid City Grill and Lounge for only $25! The menu includes Crème of roasted butternut squash soup with honey and coconut milk, Turkey with all the fixings, chestnut stuffing, cranberry sauce, turkey gravy, duchess potato, bacon-rolled green beans and roasted root vegetables, and pumpkin cheesecake! Also available on Skip the Dishes.

See you at Century Downs!