09/08/2001 12:00AM

Big day big push for Gaskin


FORT ERIE, Ontario - When jockey Tyler Gaskin won four races on the Aug. 26 card at Fort Erie it increased his number of career victories to a grand total of 15.

Gaskin had won only one race when the season began here April 28, but waived his apprentice allowance and was granted a regular license to ride by the Ontario Racing Commission.

"Doing bug weight was killing me," said Gaskin. "I rode just once last year. I'm one of the taller riders here, 5 feet, 6 inches, and I got my weight down to 106 pounds. I finished seventh but when I came back I was all wobbly-kneed and felt sick. I thought I was going to pass out.

"I told the stewards I would suffer as a journeyman for a while but that hopefully things would take off. It was the only shot I had of making a career of it."

Gaskin, 22, says he is comfortable with his present weight of 110 to 111 pounds. He monitors what he eats and doesn't overindulge.

Gaskin said he hopes his four-win day results in more and better mounts. "I wanted to ride good races so I would be used on more horses," he said.

Chris Tuttle trained the four horses that won for Gaskin. Tuttle is impressed with the young rider's enthusiasm and work ethic. "The biggest thing is he loves being out there," said Tuttle, this track's second-leading trainer. "Every morning he's there. He came out even when he wasn't doing too well at the beginning of the year. A lot of people took advantage of him. They used him in the mornings and then turned to another rider for the races. He rode a lot of bad horses in the spring."

Prior to the four-bagger, Gaskin was averaging less than two mounts per day. On Saturday he was named on five horses, on Sunday six, and on Monday four.

Gaskin is a native of Montreal and his family moved to Toronto when he was 11. He started with horses at a show-jumping school and then he spent a couple of summers in Barbados learning the basics of riding - galloping, jogging, and exercising. His father, an avid racegoer, sent him there to friends when Gaskin expressed an interest in becoming a jockey. Gaskin also spent some summers working at Woodbine.

At 17 Gaskin went to Calgary to be licensed as a rider, because in Ontario the minimum age is 18. But after a few unsuccessful starts Gaskin returned to Toronto to finish high school.

In 1999, as a bug, he won his first race at Fort Erie. It was the second day of the season. But after 13 winless races, 10 here and three at Woodbine Gaskin, packed it in. He went to work for Tino Attard, who was training a string of runners for Frank Stronach. Exercising Milwaukee Brew and accompanying him to the Ohio Derby, which he won, was the highlight of that work stint. It gave Gaskin the itch to try riding again.