06/18/2009 11:00PM

At long last, Cruise is getting his chance


VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Garry Cruise is hoping to kick-start his riding career by moving his tack to Hastings. Cruise, who arrived here last weekend, is off to a good beginning. He has already won a race, and he has finished in the money with six of his eight mounts.

Cruise was also off to a very promising start as an apprentice at Woodbine in 1998, but his career came to an abrupt halt. Cruise had his license suspended by the Ontario Racing Commission when it was discovered he had falsified his apprentice jockey's application. It turned out he had ridden and won races under another name, Colin Campbell. Cruise also neglected to report a criminal conviction regarding credit card theft in California, and he was eventually deported to his native Scotland.

After a lengthy process, Cruise was allowed to return to Canada in 2003, where he galloped horses for a couple of years until he retained his jockey's license in 2005.

"It was a tough time," said Cruise. "I was born in Scotland, but from the first day I was here I felt like Canada was my home. It probably would have been easier to go somewhere else, but this is my home, my wife is from here, and I had a point to prove. You have to take responsibility for what you have done, and I did ride roughshod for a while. All of that was a long time ago. I'm looking towards the future, not the past."

Cruise was thankful to trainer Mark Frostad and Sam-Son Farm for helping him get back on his feet when he returned to Canada.

"Mark let me gallop his best horses, and I also got on horses for Frank Stronach at Adena Springs," he said. "I had to prove myself before they would license me as a jockey again, and it certainly helped working for some of the classiest stables in Canada."

Cruise, 37, has impressed local horsemen with his riding skills and has secured 14 mounts this weekend. At the current Woodbine meet, which started on April 4, he had ridden only 25 horses.

"I am really pleased with the way I have been received here," said Cruise. "It was very frustrating at Woodbine. People would tell me how much they liked the way I ride, but I wasn't getting very much business. I didn't become a jockey to sit on the bench. Here, they not only tell me they like me, they are giving me an opportunity to ride."

Cruise doesn't think he has to adapt his skills to ride on a bullring or change his way of riding over a dirt surface after riding over the Polytrack at Woodbine.

"The turns set up nicely here and the track seems very fair," he said. "I have seen a lot of horses come from off the pace to win, so I don't think you have to be overly aggressive. Of course, you have to set your horse up going into the turns. If you have enough horse under you, you can do the job. It's a long way around any track on a bad horse."

Trainer Rob VanOverschot has been impressed by what he has seen from Cruise so far. VanOverschot has put Cruise on two of the four horses he is running at Hastings on Sunday.

"I think he is going to do real well here," said VanOverschot. "He looks good on a horse. He sits quiet, holds them together, and finishes strong."

VanOverschot also likes the work ethic Cruise has displayed.

"He's not afraid to work, that's for sure," said VanOverschot. "He's here every morning. He's happy to work or gallop a horse for you, whatever it takes."

Cruise seems to be very comfortable in his new life in Vancouver. He is looking forward to his wife, Jennifer, joining him in the next week or so.

"I am hoping to ride here for a long time," he said. "There is a really good group of riders here, and from what I have seen, and what people have told me, racing is headed in a good direction here. It's also a great place to live. In Toronto it was an hour and a half to get to a place where you could enjoy the outdoors. Here, you're looking at it from the track."

Cruise could make a big impact at Hastings this meet and finally embark on a career that at one time seemed so promising.