10/07/2003 11:00PM

Jockey Welch a hot ticket

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EDMONTON, Alberta - During the Alberta Fall Classic at Northlands Park in 1997, jockey Quincy Welch was prepared to ride. He waited patiently, but the call never came.

Fast forward to 2003, and Welch is the most sought-after jockey in Alberta, rarely finding time to sit around the jocks' room and wait for his next mount.

Besides his unquestioned ability, Welch is a favorite of trainers because of his good nature off the track and intensity during a race.

He will be the leading jockey this year in Alberta after winning the spring meet in Calgary and then at Northlands.

Welch posted a meet-best 44 wins in Calgary from just 190 mounts. His nearest competitor, David Wilson, needed 250 mounts to register 40 wins. Welch also led the earnings parade with $536,582 in purse money and has continued his dominance here.

With 81 wins heading into this week, including three stakes, Welch is leading the way again at Northlands Park, and he passed $1 million in earnings last weekend. His nearest rival in wins is Leanne Painter, who has 59 this season.

Although Welch has won just three stakes this year, he will almost certainly be recognized as the top jockey in Alberta at the annual Horse Racing Alberta awards, held later this year in Calgary.

Welch's effectiveness is defined by his consistency. He has a winning percentage of just 10 in stakes, but leads in virtually every other category.