In the Sport of Kings, Patrick Husbands now sits alone on the throne after being crowned with a record seventh Outstanding Jockey Sovereign title last Friday night in Toronto.
In surpassing Todd Kabel, the 36-year-old Barbadian-born secured his sixth Woodbine riding title with 188 victories, which is the fourth highest in the track’s history. In 972 starts, which is the most he has had since 1999 when he made 945 starts, Husbands was second 161 times and he crossed the finish line third on 147 occasions while becoming the only rider to surpass the $10 million mark in purse earnings.
“This was quite a fulfilling season,” he said. “To be the Outstanding Jockey a record seven times means a lot to me because the journey has not been easy. I however set myself goals and I have been able to achieve most of them through hard work and commitment.”
Husbands, who won the award by 122 votes, began his riding career at Woodbine in 1994 which is two years after Kabel captured his first Sovereign award. The first season was challenging as Husbands, who won the prestigious Cockspur event in Barbados at age 16, failed to secure a ride in the first five weeks and was contemplating returning home when his older brother Aubrey intervened an encouraged him to stay.
He won 12 races that year, 50 the following season and his first stakes event in 1998 when he posted 131 wins in 780 starts.
Last October 4, Husbands reached a milestone 2,000th win aboard the three-year-old gelding, Grazettes Landing, owned by Ottawa Senators Hockey Club proprietor Eugene Melnyk.
“In my opinion, Patrick is well on the way to becoming a Canadian Hall of Famer,” Melnyk, who won the Outstanding Owner and Breeder awards, told Share. “His success has been unprecedented and in the next 10 to 15 years, he will be referred to as a legend.
“He has matured to the point where he can compete with the best in the world and he has shown tremendous ability to read a race and run at tracks that are not dissimilar to the one he’s familiar with at Woodbine.”
Melnyk, who has resided in Barbados for the past two decades, still remembers fondly Husbands’ victory aboard Exciting Story in the Metropolitan Mile at Belmont Park in May 2001.
“That was the most spectacular race I have ever seen Patrick run,” Melnyk, who also owns the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors hockey club, said. “I would have no hesitation to put him into any race in North America.”
A Breeders Cup victory has eluded Husbands who clinched last year’s Dominion Day one-and-a-quarter-mile race for older horses aboard Marchfield, which won the Champion Older Male Sovereign award.
“I certainly want to win more Sovereign awards, but winning a Breeders Cup race or the Kentucky Derby remains a priority for me,” added Husbands whose success has opened the door for many Barbadians to work at Woodbine in the last decade.
Husbands, who became a Canadian citizen in 2000 and is in the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame, was one of two Caribbean-born riders to finish in the Top 10 in last year’s jockey standings. Trinidadian Emile Ramsammy, a two-time Sovereign award winner, was fourth with 121 victories in 898 starts.
The 2009 leading jockey spent the past six weeks in Barbados before heading to New Orleans last Sunday to prepare for the upcoming Woodbine season.