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A 30-Year Woodbine Thrill Ride

May 13, 2024

Patrick Husbands has always preferred to let the horses do the talking. And what a story they have to tell.

Over his 30-plus years in the saddle, Husbands has crafted an enviable riding resume, one that showcases countless high-profile triumphs in some of Thoroughbred racing’s top events.

From three King’s Plate victories to a record eight Sovereign Awards as Canada’s champion jockey, the pride of Barbados has earned a rightful reputation as one of the best to have ever ridden at Woodbine.

Emigrating to Canada in 1994 from his homeland, Husbands, whose father also rode, had already established himself as a legitimate talent in Barbados.

In 1990, at age 16, Husbands became the youngest rider to win the Cockspur Cup. He also won the Bajan riding title in 1993.

If there were any question marks about his ability to succeed outside of Barbados, Husbands provided an emphatic answer soon after he moved his tack to the Toronto oval.

His greatest moment, no doubt, came in 2003 when he guided future Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame Inductee, Wando, to Canadian Triple Crown glory for the late Gustav Schickendanz and trainer Mike Keogh, also Honoured Members of the Hall.

Patrick Husbands winning the 2003 Queen's Plate with Wando (Michael Burns Photo)
Patrick Husbands winning the 2003 Queen’s Plate with Wando (Michael Burns Photo)

“There were so many butterflies,” recalled Husbands, of his Triple Crown coronation. “I hadn’t won a Plate yet and when it happened with Wando it was unbelievable. And to win a Triple Crown, that took many months to sink in. Wando was a true champion.”

Despite a rash of injuries over the years, some serious, others minor, Husbands’ competitive fire and fondness for the sport’s equine stars always kept him coming back for more.

Over his time in the irons, Husbands has partnered with some of the greatest names in Canadian racing.

That list includes Hall of Fame horse Sealy Hill and Plate winner Lexie Lou, who was inducted into the CHRHF in 2019.

Other notable wins include a stunning score in the 2001 edition of the Grade 1, $1 million Woodbine Mile with Numerous Times and a prosperous trip to Belmont Park where he guided Exciting Story to a famous 56-1 victory in the same year’s $750,000 Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap.

A sure sign of his enduring talents was on display throughout 2023.

Patrick Husbands after winning the 2024 King's Plate with Paramount Prince (Michael Burns Photo)
Patrick Husbands after winning the 2024 King’s Plate with Paramount Prince (Michael Burns Photo)

Not only did he win his third Plate with the Gary Barber-owned and Mark Casse-trained Paramount Prince, but Husbands also led all Woodbine riders in stakes wins in 2023.

​His body of work with Casse has delivered one of the most potent one-two, jockey-trainer combinations in the history of Canadian Thoroughbred racing.

“Racing has given me so much,” said Husbands, who was named to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024 this April. “I have been very lucky to ride so many great horses for amazing trainers and owners.”

Husbands has over 3,600 career victories and earnings of nearly $179 million (U.S.).

With 369 stakes victories, a career win rate hovering near 20 per cent and a 50 per cent top three average, consistency remains a hallmark of an outstanding life in racing.

In 2014, he was the recipient of the prestigious Avelino Gomez Memorial Award, a nod to his contributions to Thoroughbred racing.

“I’ve heard all the stories about Gomez,” recalled Husbands, who was inducted into the Brampton Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. “He was a top-class rider, and no one ever has a bad word to say about him. When I came to Canada, I always hoped that it would turn out well, but I never dreamed that one day I would be at a stage to receive the award named for one of the greatest jockeys ever to ride at Woodbine. It’s an absolute honour.”

While the final chapter of his career is still to be written, Husbands’ impact on racing, both in Barbados and Canada, has produced a remarkable success story.

Now, as always, he is happy to let the horses do the talking.

“I enjoy going out there and competing. It has always been a team effort. Trainers, owners, exercise riders, grooms, hotwalkers, my agent [Leroy Trotman] – so many people have helped me achieve success over the years. I am grateful for that.”

Patrick Husbands will be honoured with a special presentation during racing on Saturday, May 18 at Woodbine Racetrack.

Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms

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