Home of the Louisiana Derby

Patrick Husbands Back in Big Easy

Canadian-based jockey Patrick Husbands accepted his third straight Sovereign Award as Canada’s champion jockey in ceremonies in Toronto a little over a week ago, then on Saturday he rode three horses at Fair Grounds, winning with one, finishing second on another and third on the other to start off his local winter with a perfect in-the-money percentage.  

Actually, the 36-year-old native of Barbados is four-for-four in the money with his last four New Orleans mounts because he won with the only horse he rode here last season before being called to Southern California. Also, he has now won a total of seven Sovereign Awards in his 14-year career – more than any other jockey in the history of Thoroughbred racing north of the border.

However, although he is now a Canadian citizen and makes his home in Toronto, he has grown to love New Orleans and plans to ride here most of the Fair Grounds season the way he did the year before last. Another winter in California is not on the table right now.

“If I had to move to some other place besides Toronto, I’d want to move here,” said Husbands, speaking Sunday morning from the Fair Grounds track kitchen. “I’ve ridden in New York and Southern California, but New Orleans is a very unique city, and it’s so laid back. I like that – being laid back. All the other places I’ve been, whenever you go to get your license they have a whole list of new rules. Each year, the list gets longer and longer. In Louisiana, the rules are always the same.”

Obviously, being a native of Barbados, Husbands’ riding career began there, but now, after so many years of international celebrity, he feels somewhat like an unwelcome prophet in his own land.

“I ride 11 months of the year, and when I go home I like to just be on vacation for a month,” Husbands said.  “I don’t want to do anything but relax, but people keep asking me to ride to promote the local racing.

“This winter, I held a one-hour press conference to try to explain my position,” Husbands said, “but I finally agreed to ride in the Gold Cup – the biggest race. Then, when I’m in the paddock mounting up for the big race, the crowd starts booing me, calling me every name in the Bible, telling me how I’m robbing all the kids (local jockeys) of their chance to make some money. So I’m thinking, ‘I just can’t win with these people!’ but then after I won the race all the people started cheering me for winning. When they did that it made me feel very happy and proud.”

Of course, like most every other active jockey in existence, Husbands wants to win the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but he also thinks he has a very good chance to win this year’s Kentucky Oaks.

“I’m going down to Ocala next Monday to ride her on Ocala Sales Day for (trainer) Mark Casse,” said Husbands. “Her name is Allegation and she’s big like Zenyatta even though she just turned 3-years-old. I rode Laragh (who won the Grade I Hollywood Starlet) and this filly is much better than her. Next winter when I come back down here, I’ll be a better story, too. I’ll be known as the rider of the ‘young Zenyatta.’ You’ll see.”

Hall of Fame Jockey Pat Day Returning to Fair Grounds Feb. 20
Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day is coming back to Fair Grounds in less than two weeks, arriving in time for the Trainers Party Feb. 19, which will be held from 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m. in the Black Gold Room during Fair Grounds’ second Starlight Racing program.

On Feb. 20, Louisiana Derby Preview Day at Fair Grounds, the local oval will host an autograph session with the Hall of Fame jockey to raise money for the Race Track Chaplaincy of America (RTCA).