10/06/2011 3:19PM

Fort Erie: Hustle, bustle keeping Souter fit


FORT ERIE, Ontario – In his present role as a jockey agent, Paul Souter finds that the miles he travels around the Fort Erie backstretch helps keep him in shape.

“It is a challenging business,” said Souter, 55, a retired jockey and former part-time trainer.

“You have to get around and make contacts for your riders. On many mornings the legwork can be considerable. Besides looking for horses to ride in upcoming races you have to be on your toes arranging workout times with various trainers as well as making sure that your riders are in the right barn at the right time.”

Souter is always looking for a race where his rider can pair with a specific horse. His condition book is full of scribbles and small notes that cover arrangements made – or hopefully about to be made – with trainers.

In addition, he has another book relating to morning works, where and when and for whom.

“A trainer can want you to work one runner at a specific time and it can conflict with what other conditioners have already requested,” said Souter.

“Then the balancing act comes in as you try to keep everyone happy, including your jockeys. Thank heavens for the cell phone.”

Souter has been on the other end of the agent/jockey stick. He began his riding career in 1976, spending the winters down south and the summers on the Ontario circuit.

“Trainer Johnny Starr helped me to get started, putting me up on a number of good runners,” said Souter. “I won my first race at Calder and also worked at both Gulfstream and Hialeah. We won around 75 races on the circuit and those tracks combined to give me a trophy as the top apprentice for the season.”

Souter’s favorite memory as a rider is the 1982 Queen’s Plate.

“Won it with Son of Briartic, trained by Gerry Lavigne,” said the agent. “He had good speed and we went to the front and never looked back. It was a special moment in my life, a dream come true.”

Souter hung up his tack for good in 2002, with more than 25 years logged in the books.

“For a while I tried my hand at training a couple of my own,” said Souter. “I really enjoyed it. I will do it again if things work out. Even just one runner would keep me happy.”

In the meantime, Souter will roam the Fort Erie backside.

◗ Quarter Horse racing returns Saturday with a full card of 10 dashes. Two stakes, both worth $150,000, will be featured.

The programs of Oct 15 and 22 are also exclusive for Quarter Horses. Sunday, Oct 16, will be the Battle of the Breeds, where four Quarter Horses and four Thoroughbreds are scheduled to go head-to-head for a $35,000 purse.

A $1,000 handicapping contest will be on the Saturday ticket and a Tiki Bar hoedown will be an added attraction.