08/16/2013 10:01AM

Fort Erie: Alderson has been there, done that


FORT ERIE, Ontario – Tony Alderson, 54, has just about done in all when it comes to Thoroughbreds.

Beginning at Woodbine at the age of 15, Alderson hooked up with trainer Bonnie Bolt as a hotwalker and then moved on through the various roles on the backstretch and became a jockey.Today he trains a small stable of runners at Fort Erie.

Alderson still has the look of a jockey, standing a little over the five-foot mark and weighing a few pounds over his former riding weight of 120 pounds.

“Bonnie was a great teacher,” said Alderson, “and from my initial hotwalking job, she later taught me how to break yearlings.

“For once, my small size came in handy as Bonnie put me up on horses, and in no time at all I was galloping and learning the other aspects of what it takes to train young horses and then bring those Thoroughbreds to the racetrack.”

Other Woodbine trainers, including Emile Allain and Laurie Silvera, took on Alderson as a gallop person over the years and he also spent time on the farm learning the breeding side of the business.

It was back in the early 1980s that Alderson decided to become a jockey.

“My first win came in 1981 aboard Band On the Run at Fort Erie,” said Alderson. “Besides the jockey initiation proceedings that follow a first win, I also remember that we won by more than eight lengths.”

Alderson rode mainly at Fort Erie during the next few years, but in 1989 he was devastated by the death of his older brother Desmond.

“Losing my brother changed my life,” said Alderson. “I put on weight, lost my interest in being a jockey, and then took on the trainer’s role, replacing my brother for the family’s business.

“Over the years since my brother’s passing, I trained a few runners every year. I married my wife, Kristen, in 1992 and settled in to training and raising a family. Today, we have three wonderful kids: Jeffrey, now a jockey; Ryan, just finishing off high school and working for me this summer; and my daughter, Kayla.”

Also on board and helping the Alderson barn is groom Olivia Campbell, whom Alderson describes as his right-hand woman these days.

Meanwhile, Tony Alderson’s favorite horse will always be Sandspit.

Claimed for $5,000 as a 3-year-old in 2002, Sandspit went on to win the Puss N Boots Stakes at Fort Erie at ages 8 and 9 with his patented stretch rally.

“He won 11 races overall, and was the family’s pride and joy,” said Alderson.

Speaking of current plans, Alderson spoke highly of his new owner Frank Corigliano, who has a Curlin 2-year-old in his barn and an Alphabet Soup foal.

“Mr. Corigliano has a farm near Buffalo, New York, and has been breeding his Papa Rico mare to sires such as Stephen Got Even and Milwaukee Brew,” said Alderson. “We broke his Curlin yearling at his farm last season, and I look forward to working with his other young horses.”

◗ The minimum wager on the pick five bet at the Fort has been upped to $1 from 20 cents. Since it was not hit last Tuesday, when the new bet began, there will be a $3,672 carryover on Sunday.