07/09/2010 11:00PM

Fort Erie rider Griffith nearing 1,400th career win


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Chris Griffith has been climbing aboard Thoroughbreds at Fort Erie for more than 20 years and the laid-back rider is nearing career win number 1,400.

Griffith, 40, had 1,377 wins entering Sunday's card. He has won the Fort Erie riding title three times and is currently second in the standings with 22 wins, 10 behind leading rider Krista Carignan.

The soft-spoken, relaxed, and reliable Griffith is happy with the results.

"I'm just going about my business," said Griffith. "Winning another title is not high on my priority list; just doing the best I can for the trainers that give me the opportunity is where I'm at these days. "

Griffith began his riding career in Barbados at the age of 17, moved to Canada the following year, and since 1988 has made the town of Fort Erie his home.

"I did some riding in the States and of course at Woodbine, but Fort Erie has been home base and I am just glad to see it is still in operation," said Griffith, making reference to the number of times in recent years that the 113-year-old track has been on the chopping block.

"The track's condition again this year is excellent and has to rate up there with the best in North America," he said. "It is very kind to horses and if a runner has a bit of a problem, this surface will help him stay in the game."

Griffith returned to Barbados in 1996 to ride in that country's biggest race, the Gold Cup. He won the race aboard Rambrino for owner Robert Sangster, and considers that to be his favorite win of all time.

Ladies Day first of special Sundays

Elissa Blowe, the color commentator at the Fort, has assumed a number of the responsibilities formerly held by retired track announcer and communications director Daryl Wells.

Blowe will fill the media, marketing, and event coordinator position while being assisted in that role by a former rider at the Fort, Cory Clark.

"We plan to have something happening every Sunday through the season," Blowe said.

"A banner day should be Ladies Day on July 18, when our female jockeys will be meeting and greeting all the ladies beginning at noon.

"Also on the schedule is an art show, and throughout the day there will be a host of prizes and giveaways."

* Apprentice Marni Williams won her fourth lifetime race last week and then booked off her mounts for the rest of the day as she pondered whether to hang up her tack for the rest of the year to extend her apprenticeship.