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Better to be champion jockey

Lindon Yarde

Better to be champion jockey

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Sometimes it’s not all about the money but about the satisfaction of achieving one’s personal goals.

Last Wednesday, top journeyman Patrick Husbands was faced with that quandary. He was booked for two rides at Santa Rosa Park in Arima, Trinidad, and seven on the Woodbine Race Track evening nine race card in Canada.

Husbands, who has won seven Canadian Sovereign Awards, was carded to ride one of the favourites Momentum in the $500 000 Trinidad Derby.

However, history now shows that the horse did go on to win the Trinidad Triple Crown but under regular rider Brian Boodramsingh.

For Husbands it was a matter of what he wanted most – a Trinidad Derby or to keep pace with his challenger, once longtime leader now his main rival and pursuer Luis Contreras in a quest to be crowned champion rider at Woodbine. He chose the latter.

His decision not to make the trip to Santa Rosa Park was a dream come true for Trinidad champion jockey Brian Boodramsingh who landed his first Derby after being without a ride up to 24 hours before the pattern event.  

Husbands started last week’s card leading Contreras by 118 to 113 wins and won two races compared with Contreras’ one. Husbands was in winners enclosure in Race 4 winning aboard Niigon Express which he immediately followed by winning astride Weekend In Malibu.

At the time of writing this article three race days had even run and the gruelling Husbands/Contreras battle continues to be one of the main attention grabbers at Woodbine.

From 475 rides Husbands has now won 122 for earnings of CAN$7 810 720 while Contreras has amassed CAN$ 6 281 090 accumulated through 119 wins from 643 track appearances.

There is still plenty of riding to be done as the Woodbine season still has 40 race days before the season concludes on December 7. However, Husbands will be pressed to make another critical decision whether to ride at the Breeders Cup at Santa Anita Park in California, where the purse totals US$26 million on October 31 and November 1 or Woodbine the same weekend.

This predicament, though wonderful, arose as Husbands earlier last month partnered home the Mark Casse trained pair of Conquest Typhoon and Conquest Harlanate in two races that formed part of the World Championship Breeders Cup Challenge on September 13 and 14, at Woodbine race track.

Conquest Typhoon won the Grade II Summer Stakes over one mile on the turf while Conquest Harlanate grabbed the Natalma Stakes for fillies over one mile, again on the turf. Both races ran for a purse of CAN$200 000. After the races, owner Ernie Semersky said both horses are Breeders Cup-bound.

A similar decision as to whether to go to the 2012 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita saw Husbands surrender his jockey title to Contreras, who was trailing him back then.