TORONTO – Barbadian jockeys continue to rule the track in Canada.
Yesterday veteran rider Patrick Husbands kept in touch with the leaders in the early exchanges at Woodbine when he rode a handsome triple on the day’s 10-race card.
Husbands, who celebrates his 44th birthday later this month, rode winners in race six with Conquest Lemonraid, in race nine with Commute and in the day’s final race with Brilliant Charlie, to snatch a share of the headlines.
Husbands lies third in the standings on 12 wins from 43 rides, four adrift of leader and defending champion, Eurico Rosa da Silva, and just two behind the second placed Rafael Hernandez.
The seven-time Woodbine champion opened his account over seven furlongs, producing a stalking ride aboard bay colt Conquest Lemonraid to beat the three-year-olds by 1-1/4 lengths.
Going off at odds of 3-1, the pair forced the pace set by Yes Darlin before rallying on the turn, duelling with the leader into the stretch and pulling away late to take the wire first.
Husbands’ second success came over 6-1/2 furlongs when he steered five-year-old bay horse Commute to a 2-3/4 length victory over the three-year-old and upwards.
Shakhimat and Puntrooskie exchanged the lead through the half run in 44.35 seconds, with Husbands stalking from third with the favourite. However, Commute bid on the late turn, chased down the leaders before hitting the front with a furlong to run and proving best at the wire.
Husbands wrapped up his haul over six furlongs by combining with four-year-old gelding Brilliant Charlie to edge the three-year-old and upwards by a neck.
The pair duelled with Scotty’s Ego through the half in 45.25 seconds before eking out a lead at the top of the stretch. Husbands was then forced to hold off a strong late run from Wickstead before getting the favourite home narrowly.
Meanwhile on Saturday six-time defending champion jockey Rico Walcott sent an early signal to his rivals at Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alberta, riding four of the six winners that were piloted by Barbadians.
Walcott led the way with four winners, including one in the stewards’ room, following a disqualification that erased a victory on the track for Trinidad & Tobago-born jockey Keishan Balgobin.
Quincy Welch, a former multiple Northlands champion, and teenaged emerging riding talent Rey Williams logged the other winners ridden by Barbadians at western Canada’s premier racing oval.
Walcott got off the mark, when he won the CAN$11,000 second race going 700 metres on the dirt track, steering the 4-5 favourite The Edge of Time to a commanding 8 ¼-length victory.
The Edge of Time, a five-year-old chestnut gelding, sprinted away from the gates, drew clear through the turn and finished in hand in the four-horse field with a time of 37.91 seconds.
Welch followed up with a 3 ¼-length victory on the favourite Classyshadesofgrey in the CAN$22,000 third race over 700m on the dirt.
Welch set the pace with Classyshadesofgrey and the five-year-old grey mare drew away in the stretch when asked to clock 38.02 secs, just 0.23 secs off the track record.
Walcott returned with another dominant ride on the 5-1 chance Phil Power to win the CAN$9,800 seventh race, again going 700m on the dirt.
Phil Power, a four-year-old chestnut gelding, broke alertly and was quickest to the turn before Walcott drew him away from the rest of the small field through the stretch for a time of 38.41 seconds.
Drama unfolded in the CAN$11,800 eighth race contested over 700m on the dirt, when Balgobin took command early on the 4-1 chance Dark Halo. But Balgobin was not able to control Dark Halo, when it drifted to the inside rail to interfere with the path of Mianna, piloted by Walcott, in the middle of the stretch before edging away for a 2 ½-length victory.
Following a stewards’ enquiry, the 5-10 favourite Mianna, a three-year-old chestnut filly, was awarded the race with the official time of 39.11 seconds.
Walcott overcame that episode to drive 4-5 favourite Forrest Gump to a 3 ¾-length victory in CAN $20,200 ninth race, also going 700m on the dirt.
Forrest Gump, a three-year-old dark bay gelding, was quickest to the turn and drew clear into the stretch to finish in 38.45 seconds.
Williams brought the curtain down when he logged a half-length victory astride the 8-1 chance Moonlight Crush in the CAN $8,600 final race over 700m on the dirt.
He kept Moonlight Crush in striking range before gaining the lead into the stretch and getting the three-year-old, bay filly to hold on under steady pressure to stop the clock at 38.60 seconds.