05/18/2006 11:00PM

Better late than never: Loseth's special day

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Hastings
Spaghetti Mouse's recent six-furlong work would have been a track record if it were a race.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Monday, when all of Canada celebrates the birthday of Queen Victoria, who ruled the British Empire from 1837 until her death in 1901, Hastings will honor a jockey, Chris Loseth, who ruled over the local jockey colony from 1975 until he retired last June.

In his unassuming way, Loseth announced he was retiring just moments before he went out to ride his final race. Management at Hastings felt that Loseth, the track's all-time leading rider in both wins and stakes wins, deserved a more suitable send-off.

Loseth, 51, was the leading rider at Hastings eight times. He won 3,688 races and his mounts earned more than $32 million. He won the Sovereign Award twice - the first time as the leading apprentice in Canada in 1976 and as a journeyman in 1984. Until recently, he held a North American record for eight wins on a single card.

It's fitting that Chris Loseth Day falls on the same day as the $50,000 John Longden 6000. Longden grew up in Alberta and was a big inspiration to Loseth.

After reading an article describing Longden's 6,000th win at Hastings - then called Exhibition Park - Loseth decided he wanted to become a jockey. He made the decision when he was 10 years old.

"I got to know John pretty good," said Loseth. "He would come up for the Longacres Mile every year, and when I told him the story about the newspaper article he was very flattered. I actually won a pretty good stakes for his son Eric at Bay Meadows."

Loseth got off to a rocky beginning as a rider at Sagebrush Downs, a bush track in the interior of British Columbia.

"I rode a horse for Dave Forster and we finished second, but I had my number taken down," said Loseth. "I interfered with every horse in the race except the winner. But I almost put him over the fence when we were galloping out. I was told I would never make it."

He made it big, though, and was the perfect rider for the Hastings oval, which measures slightly more than five furlongs. Loseth was very aggressive and would usually have his horse in a good spot early.

"You have to be aggressive to be successful here," he said. "Even if it wasn't a horse's preferred running style, I would like to get him interested early. I won a lot of races that way."

He didn't ride his favorite horse, Delta Colleen, that way, however. She usually languished behind the pack early and then made one big, swooping move.

"I've never ridden a horse that kicked in like she did," Lonseth said. "I'll never forget when she came from at least 15 lengths behind to win the Belle Roberts at Longacres. It was a thrill to ride her."

Loseth, who works as an assistant to his wife, trainer Tracy McCarthy, has no regrets about retiring.

"I don't miss riding at all," he said. "Tracy and I have some really nice horses to work with and they keep us very busy."

Loseth said he's pleased that Hastings is honoring him.

"I usually don't go in for that kind of thing but I'm very proud of my accomplishments and it's nice that they want to acknowledge my contribution to the sport that I love," he said.

The ceremony honoring Loseth will take place after the fourth race, and he will be available for autographs following the ceremony. In addition, the first 1,000 people that buy programs will receive a free Chris Loseth bobblehead.

The special day should take some of the sting out of Loseth not making it into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame this year. According to his wife, Loseth fell a couple of votes short. A majority of Sovereign Awards votes lie in the eastern part of the country, and some voters there may not be familiar with Loseth's career and the contribution he has made to horse racing in British Columbia. For Loseth to come up short in the voting is beyond comprehension to anyone who watched him ride day in and day out for the last 30 years.

Spaghetti Mouse flies in workout

Spaghetti Mouse, who figures to be one of the favorites in the Longden, bettered the track record this week. It wasn't in a race, though, so his tremendous six-furlong workout in 1:10.20 Monday morning won't be recognized. The track record for the distance is 1:10.40. Track clockers said his fractions of 22.40, 34, and 45.80 were all fastest of the day as well. He galloped out seven furlongs in 1:23.80.

His trainer, Gary Demorest, wasn't exactly thrilled with the work.

"I wanted the horse to work along and I wanted the horse to work a distance, but, of course, we weren't looking for that type of move a week before he's going to run," he said. "Hopefully he'll overcome our mistakes, and that's why they put erasers in pencils. I've never trained a horse with this much talent, so maybe it won't be a problem."

Spaghetti Mouse's usual rider, Dave Wilson, was aboard for the move.

"He did it all on his own," he said. "I still find it hard to believe he went that fast."