09/06/2007 11:00PM

Ex-rider Harding now jockeying three jobs


FORT ERIE, Ontario - "Retired" jockey Tyrone Harding was beaming his usual smile one day recently as he moved into the placing judges' stand for the first race.

Harding, 46, and as affable as they come, had finished some Monday morning gallops, taken a short break, and now was set to go as the runners moved into position for the first race.

The term "retirement" is a true misnomer where Harding is concerned. Mondays he talks horses on morning gallops and then works as a placing judge, and that is one of the easier days of the week for him. Four days of the week he also works taking entries in the race office.

"I have three jobs going on most days - galloping, taking entries, and then the place judging," Harding said. "My favorite by far of the three is the race office entry job. The people working there are very special and have been patient while I have learned the position."

Harding's day starts just before 6oa.m. when he arrives to climb aboard the first of a few horses he works. After that's done, he rushes home for a shower and change of clothes, then heads back to the track for entries. Once entries are closed, he gets a short break and then heads to the grandstand and his judging position.

"My back went on me in 2005 and now I no longer can take the strain that comes from setting down a horse to give his best," said Harding. "I gallop horses in the morning, but when it comes to a serious workout, I leave it to someone else."

Harding began his career in Barbados nearly 25 years ago. Moving his tack to Canada and Woodbine in the late 1980s, he eventually found himself settling into the quieter way of life that Fort Erie offers.

Four children later, including a set of twins, Harding and his wife, Sandra, have been busy making the Fort their home. Their oldest child, Tonya, is now off to college.

With his riding career behind him, Harding looks back with some nostalgia. He also remembers the injuries he suffered.

"I broke my leg during an incident back in 1989 and was off for five months," he said.

"Then, 12 years later, on April Fool's Day at Woodbine, my horse flipped in the post parade and darn if I didn't break the same leg in exactly the same place. It is now held together by a plate and eight screws."

Harding ended his racing career with 669 winners. Reminiscing over his many rides, he has one memory that stands out.

"My favorite win of all time came aboard [trainer] Reade Baker's longshot Synchronized in the $125,000 Bison City Stakes here at Fort Erie," Harding said.

It happened in 1999, and Synchronized was 37-1.

"It's always nice to arrive in the winner's circle with a runner that was not expected to be there," Harding said.