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Hoyte going great guns in Canada

Jamaican jockey Rajiv Maragh piloting Groupie Doll across the finish line to win the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint horse race last Saturday at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia. (AP Picture) Mark Casse.

Wed, November 07, 2012 - 12:03 AM

Barbadian exercise jockey Jason Hoyte may not have been in the spotlight last Friday and Saturday during the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in Arcadia, California.

Instead, from a Caribbean perspective, the attention was focused on Jamaican jockey Rajiv Maragh and Hoyte’s compatriot Patrick Husbands.

But the 26-year-old Hoyte, the exercise rider for Woodbine’s leading trainer Mark Casse, had travelled across the continent as the regular morning partner for Spring Venture, Spring in the Air, Delegation and Dynamic Sky.

While Husbands, Maragh and Luis Contreras got the glamour and the glory of riding in the Breeders’ Cup, Hoyte, a well-regarded ‘breeze’ rider, received the respect of Casse, a four-time Sovereign Award winner as Canada’s outstanding trainer.

Casse would speak with Hoyte every morning after a training session to find out how things went.

“If Jason says he wasn’t quite happy with him, I’ll go and see if I can find something that might be bothering the horse,” said Casse in an interview with the Sudan Vision newspaper.

Casse also pointed out the good traits of his exercise rider.

“Good hands, confidence and when they get really good, they can tell you when something is off with the horse,” Casse said. “We’re fortunate to have a lot of riders that have been with us for years, and I take their opinion serious when they tell me something.”

In seven years with the Casse barn, Hoyte has earned a reputation not only as a strong exercise rider but one who takes pride in his job.

“I love what I do. Mark and I get along well and it’s nice to get on good horses.”

Hoyte’s career started at the age of 12, riding horses in Barbados but after becoming a jockey and winning ten of 99 races, he hung up his tack.

“I wanted to be a jockey my whole life, but when things weren’t working the way I wanted to, a friend suggested I try Canada,” explained Hoyte. “So far, it’s worked out very good.”

Although Hoyte would truly love to ride horses on race days, he takes pride in the remarks he has received from jockeys he shares the course with during exercises on mornings.

“In 2008, after I worked a horse, Gary Stevens came up to me and said, ‘Kid, you’re a good rider, you look good on a horse,” recalled Hoyte. “Another morning, I was working a horse and after I pulled the horse up, Tyler Baze came up beside me on his horse and said, ‘I was wondering who that jockey was!’ It’s nice to hear that.”

Maragh had plenty to celebrate as he scored his second Breeders Cup triumph of the weekend when he carried hot favourite Groupie Doll to a resounding victory in the US$1 million Grade I Breeders Cup Filly and Mare Sprint Stakes on Saturday.

The 27-year-old kept the four-year-old chestnut filly in range throughout the seven furlong (1 400 metres) trip before surging in mid-stretch to reach the wire 4-1/2 lengths clear at Santa Anita Park.

The time of one minute, 20.72 seconds was just outside the record of 1:19.70.

Groupie Doll has now won every one of her last five starts with Maragh in the saddle, and is five-of-eight this year.

On Friday’s opening day of the Breeders Cup, Maragh took the $500 000 Juvenile Sprint Stakes with Hightail.

He has now won three career Breeders Cup races after capturing the Dirt Mile last year with Caleb’s Posse.

But the news wasn’t good for Husbands, who failed in his bid to land a Breeders Cup win, when he finished third in the US$1 million Grade I Dirt Mile with 19-1 outsider Delegation on Saturday.

He kept the Casse-trained three-year-old gelding in contention throughout but lacked enough rally in the stretch drive.

The event was won by 15-1 chance Tapizar who trounced the nine-horse field by 2-1/2 lengths.

Husbands suffered a double disappointment on Friday’s opening day, finishing 13th of 14 horses with Spring Venture in the US$1 million Breeders Cup Juveniles Fillies Turf Stakes and fifth in the eight-horse field in the US$2 million Breeders Cup Juveniles Fillies Stakes with Spring in the Air. (EZS/CMC)

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