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Patrick Husbands hints at retirement

December 7, 2021

Legendary rider Patrick Husbands has again hinted at retirement after guiding 8-5 favourite Sir Winston to a thrilling capture of the season-ending CAN$155 000 Valedictory Stakes at Woodbine on Sunday.

The 48-year-old produced a late bid aboard the Mark Casse-trained five-year-old chestnut horse to edge stablemate Frosted Over by half-length in a heated duel, hitting the wire in a time of two minutes, 31.94 seconds.

For Barbadian Husbands, the win was a record fifth in the Valedictory, a season-leading 15th in stakes and 67th victory over the six-month campaign.

And after racking up 3 507 wins throughout a three-decade long career at the southern Ontario oval and securing purse earnings of nearly CAN$171 million, Husbands said he was now seriously contemplating calling it quits.

“I had a hard week. I texted Mark around 11:30 on Wednesday night and Mark returned my call Thursday morning and I would not answer the phone,” said an emotional Husbands, an eight-time Sovereign Award winner for Canada’s best jockey.

“I said, ‘Mark, I’m done.’ And he said, ‘You can’t do this, Patrick. You can’t go out like this. You have to let Woodbine know that you are finished.’ 

“In my heart, I want to be here. I wanted to make today, right now, my last ride at Woodbine. Woodbine was great to me. But Mark told me I had the whole winter to think about it. 

“I tip my hat off to Mark. He was there for me from day one. Everyone was there for me through my injuries. So, I will think about it through the winter.”

Husbands was the last jockey to capture the cherished Canadian Triple Crown when he combined with the peerless Wando in 2003 to win the Queen’s Plate, the Prince of Wales Stakes and the Breeders’ Stakes.

He was honoured with the Avelino Gomez Memorial Award in 2014 and is all but expected to join the likes of Sandy Hawley and Mickey Walls in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in the near future.

Going a mile and a half in Sunday’s Grade 3 feature on the season-ending 14-race card, Husbands raced Sir Winston off the pace as Collective Force, War Bomber and Frosted Over made the early running, to open a handy lead on the field down the backstretch.

War Bomber led by two deep on the backstretch while being chased by Collective Force, with Frosted Over stalking and Sir Winston in fourth, the fractions having come back in 25.21 seconds for the quarter, 50.78 for the half and 1:16:23 for the three-quarter mile.

Approaching the three-eighths pole, Frosted Over darted to the front and Sir Winston followed suit, the two rounding the final turn to spark a duel at the top of the stretch.

Frosted Over initially held sway but Husbands got the best out of the 2019 Belmont Stakes winner on the outside, and he edged ahead in the final yards.

“From looking at the Racing Form, there wasn’t really much speed in the race. I was drawn so wide. I just wanted to cut the first corner,” said Husbands.

“I had never ridden [Sir Winston] in my life yet and all the years riding at Woodbine, Mark never gave me instructions. He hired me to do a job and we’ve gotten lucky and had been successful all these years. 

“So I made sure I [could] get him out of there, cut the first turn, and then play it by ear, and he relaxed right off the bat.”

Japanese jockey Kazushi Kimura took his first Woodbine title with 138 winners from 717 starts while Casse won the trainer’s honours with 110 wins, 27 coming in stakes – ten in combination with Husbands.

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