THAN A JOB
There is no disputing horse racing is an entertaining and thrilling sport for fans to watch. But like so many other professional sports where speed is a factor – auto racing and downhill skiing come to mind -there is always a risk factor.
It sometimes makes us wonder why those people involved do what they do. Since horse racing is a sport yours truly is familiar with, I put the question to several jockeys at Hastings this past week. Some of the answers were surprising.
Counting the spill Alexander Marti suffered last Sunday resulting in a fractured collar bone, at total of seven jockeys have been involved in some form of accident this season. Fortunately, most of them are either back riding or expecting to return in the near future.
Among them is popular Scott Williams, currently sixth in the leading jockey standings. He was injured following a race when his horse collapsed from heat exhaustion. Williams suffered a fracture T-4 vertebra.
“Having been brought up in a racing family,” Williams says, “both my dad and my grandad were jockeys and both were seriously hurt at times. They warned me about the dangers of riding but it’s been my passion and I love it. I’ve gone down a few times and came back each time; I’ve been knocked out a few times and bounced back. I’ll come back again because it’s my life. Riding doesn’t feel like a job. I love what I do.”
Williams is expected to miss the balance of this season and is already looking forward to next year. During his 30 years in the saddle, Richard Hamel has ridden 1,650 winners and has won the Leading Rider title an
amazing five times. He’s also been in his share of riding accidents.
“I’ve been through a few,” he says. “I’ve broken my arm, ankle, foot (twice), ribs and have damaged the soft tissue in my hands a couple of times.”
What drives him to return?
“The love of the sport,” says Hamel. “I don’t know what it is, there’s just something about riding these great animals.”
Some of the other injured jockeys this year include Jeff Burningham, who required back surgery; Amadeo Perez (shoulder), Ruben Lara (shoulder), Leo Espinoza and now Marti.
MOVING UP: Enrique Gonzalez continues to hold down the lead in the jockey standings with 34 wins but he has returned to his native Mexico to attend to family matters and may not return to Hastings this season. Amadeo Perez has been out for a couple of weeks but is due back Friday. His 32 wins have now been matched by a surging Antonio Reyes, three ahead of Hamel.
Phil Hall just keeps adding to his margin as leading trainer with 38 wins heading into this week’s Friday/Monday schedule.
NOTES ON A PROGRAM: Peter Redekop Stables recently purchased privately from U.S. sellers three-year-old All Good, winner at Los Alamitos in California and Final Jeopardy, already with $148,250 in earnings in six starts. Jot down those two names as possible starters in the BC Derby on Sept. 7.
With the annual PNE Fair underway Saturday the horse racing schedule changes to Friday/Monday cards through the balance of August. Monday racing, on PNE dark days so there is no charge for parking, begins at 6 p.m. while Friday Night Live continues with its regular 7 p.m. post time.