06/18/2010 12:00AM

Sandspit not finished, Alderson just beginning


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Trainer Tony Alderson has been taking a keen interest in a couple of guys working around his barn on the Fort Erie backstretch.

The younger of the two is Sandspit, an 11-year-old gelding. The other is Alderson's son, Jeffrey, a fast-maturing 17-year-old.

Sandspit, winner of the Puss N Boots Cup here the last two years, is scheduled to return to the races on Sunday in an about seven-furlong turf allowance and would be making his first start since last Oct. 16.

"It took a while for the old guy to come around, as he put on a ton of weight through the winter," said Alderson.

"My son and I have had him busy working and breezing this spring, I do the galloping and Jeffrey does the breezing. Heck, I would love to take my third straight swim in the infield lake come September."

The Puss N Boots Cup is scheduled for Sept. 6, and the tradition has been for the winning trainer and rider to jump in the lake, just as the Thoroughbred Puss N Boots did 49 years ago.

Jeffrey Alderson has been getting aboard 10 horses every morning, including Sandspit.

"I just love the mornings" said the Alderson, "and I have been working hard at learning the riding game."

At 105 pounds, Alderson has been getting riding tips from the likes of Anthony Stephen, Rui Pimentel, Krista Carignan and others.

"My father, who rode for 10 years, has taught me since I was a teenager," said Alderson, "and now I am gaining valuable experience from some talented jockeys."

Alderson hopes to continue his racetrack education following the end of the meeting.

"Dad and I may head down to Gulfstream this winter if all goes as planned," he said. " I will be 18 and looking to get my jockey's license and hopefully a few rides down in Florida. Then, my goal is to ride at Woodbine next spring."

Alderson also is very much in tune with his son's progress.

"My son and I are very close and he certainly is a pleasure to teach and work with," said Alderson.

"I honestly believe he has great potential, and riders like Anthony Stephen have noted the talent and provided him with the confidence factor that all jockeys need. Our whole family is cheering him on and we look forward to his apprenticeship next year."

A few jockey agents are already aware of the young Alderson and, based on what some of the journeyman riders here have said, they might just latch onto an up-and-coming rider.

Sandspit is considered a member of the close-knit Alderson family, which also includes Tony's wife, Kristen, and two other children, Ryan (14) and Kayla (9).

"At the moment, we have seven horses in the barn and rightfully Sandspit gets the most attention," said Alderson.

"He is as feisty as ever, but we all treasure his company and a few bites sent our way does not deter us from loving the old guy."

* Francine Villeneuve continues to move up the jockey standings and notched four more wins last Tuesday.

Villeneuve has 11 wins on the year and is tied for fifth place. She now has a lifetime total of 945 wins.