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‘ThankyouKessel’: The racehorse that’s trolling Toronto Maple Leafs’ Phil Kessel trade

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

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It's a chant heard echoing through the crowd in Boston when the Toronto Maple Leafs come to town, during those games in which Tyler Seguin thrives and Phil Kessel struggles.

"THANK YOU KESSEL!"

It's in reference to the Sept. 18, 2009, trade that saw the Boston Bruins trade Kessel, whose restricted free agency forced the deal, to the Leafs for Toronto's 1st (Tyler Seguin) and 2nd (Jared Knight) round picks in 2010 Entry Draft, and Toronto's 1st round choice (highly regarded defenseman Dougie Hamilton) in 2011 Entry Draft.

When the chant started in Boston, Seguin said he forced himself not to laugh on the bench.

Said Kessel: "I could care less, to tell you the truth. ... It doesn't matter to me one bit."

But wherever Kessel goes, the chant will run him down. Or, in one case, gallop after him.

"ThankyouKessel" is harness racing horse trained by Joe MacIsaac and his longtime girlfriend, Carolyn Williston, is the owner. The horse runs frequently at Woodbine — located in Toronto, of course.

So was this a Leafs' fan tribute to Kessel's efforts on the ice? Of course not. It's a Bruins fan trolling the Leafs, a trait embedded in a Bruins fan's DNA.

Here's MacIsaac on the name, and a bit of ThankyouKessel in action.

Perhaps the biggest surprise about a racehorse named after a Toronto Maple Leaf: It's a winner.

In late November, ThankyouKessel won as a 36-to-1 shot, scoring $75.10 on a $2 bet. On Monday, ThankyouKessel won again as a favorite.

Granted, the bar for NHL player-inspired horses is high. Sean Avery was a stakes race thoroughbred that raced in the New York area. As of Sept., he won seven times in 11 career starts.

But ThankyouKessel's doing just fine, thank you. Or at least well enough to escape being chosen last in the All-Star Race fantasy draft, one assumes. (Can we get Ovechkin to take a cell phone photo of ThanyouKessel in the winner's circle, for irony's sake?)

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