08/17/2012 12:41PM

Fort Erie: Terry Husbands battling for riding title

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FORT ERIE, Ontario – At age 24, Terry Husbands is an up-and-coming rider and one of the best at Fort Erie.

Husbands currently is leading the Fort Erie riding colony with 45 wins, three more than Kirk Johnson. Johnson and Husbands have been bandying back and forth for the lead for months and neither seems to be able to open a gap on his adversary. The Fort Erie meet continues through Oct. 30.

“It would be nice to win the riding title,” said Husbands, “but I am not consumed on that thought. Rather, I just want to keep getting better at what I do and keep winning races.

Born in Barbados, Husbands left that island in 2001 at the age of 13. His only riding experience as a youngster had been galloping horses on a relative’s farm.

“My grandmother and I arrived in Toronto and soon after, my uncle Anthony Husbands had me out at the Woodbine track watching my other uncle, Patrick, winning races,” said Husbands.

“I realized how successful he had become and decided there and then to become a jockey.”

In the next couple of years, Husbands hot-walked and eventually began galloping in the morning for Martha Gonzalez, among other trainers. He maintained a close contact with his Uncle Patrick and began to learn the needed skills of a jockey.

“I decided that my apprenticeship would have to begin somewhere other than Woodbine and so I went to Winnipeg and Assiniboia Downs to start my career as a jockey,” said Husbands.

“Once I had my first four wins behind me, I chose to put away my tack so as to extend my apprenticeship.

“However, there was another reason that I had to stop riding.”

Husbands, in attempting to keep the pounds off, was forced to diet and that pressure eventually resulted in a severe case of ulcers.

So serious, in fact, that it was not until three years later, in the fall of 2009, that he once again had his hands on the reins of a Thoroughbred at Fort Erie.

“I soon had my fifth win and thus dropped my weight allowance by five pounds,” said Husbands. “The autumn of 2009 was a fruitful time as I ended the year with wins at Fort Erie and six wins at Woodbine.”

Husbands has matured by leaps and bounds in the last couple of years. Patrick Husbands, based at Woodbine, has continued to mentor his nephew.

“We are very close,” said Terry Husbands. “Patrick will watch me ride and counsel me on where I have been going wrong. He is a top rider at Woodbine and I listen carefully to what he has to say. I am blessed to have a teacher with the skills of Patrick.”

Besides his proven riding ability, Husbands has also learned the intricacies of preparation before going on the track.

“I watch and read everything I can about riding and racing,” he said. “In addition to listening to my Uncle Patrick, I have tapes such as those made by Jerry Bailey, which are full of stories and hints that are beneficial to my learning curve.”