04/06/2012 2:05PM

Woodbine: Williams back for another go-round


ETOBICOKE, Ontario – Apprentice jockey Scott Williams was riding high atop the Northlands Park standings when his season came to an end because of injury last July 30. Now, Williams is taking a second run at Woodbine as part of an apprentice colony that at this early stage of the game can be said to lack a standout.

His problems had started in a race several weeks earlier when he was unseated and thrown to the track after being caught in tight quarters in the early going.

“My horse clipped heels and fell, into the turn,” said the 22-year-old Williams. “I didn’t break anything except my nose, but I couldn’t walk for a while and my back was really bad.”

Williams attempted to return less than two weeks after the accident but called it a season a couple of weeks later.

“I tried to keep going, but I just wasn’t healing the way I wanted to and I didn’t want to keep pushing,” said Williams. “I could have come back, at the end of my season, but that would have messed up my ‘bug. ‘ ”

Despite his early exit, Williams finished second in the Sovereign Award voting for 2011, behind Woodbine-based Ryan Pacheco.

Having been granted an extension of his apprentice allowance because of that time lost through injury, Williams is scheduled to have his bug weight allowance through Sept. 6 and could be in position to move to the top of his class.

“I wanted to give it another go,” said Williams, who rode here in 2010 before moving to Vancouver’s Hastings and then Edmonton’s Northlands for his last aborted campaign. “Over the winter I was down in Ocala, and a lot of people from Toronto encouraged me to come up. I was freelancing, so I should have a couple more outfits to go to now.”

Williams is being represented by Mike Luider, who also books mounts for Emma-Jayne Wilson, who finished third in the Wooodbine standings and in the Sovereign Award balloting for 2011.

“I’ve known Mike since I was 7 or 8 years old,” said Williams. “I gave him a call, and he took me.”

Williams also comes by his occupation honestly, as his father, Danny Williams, and his late grandfather, Ronnie Williams, enjoyed successful careers in the saddle.

Danny Williams, who booked mounts for Scott in his first-go around here and represented journeyman Jim McAleney here for several seasons, has moved with his wife and their two daughters to Kamloops, British Columbia.

McAleney now is represented by Don Parente.

Pacheco taking it slowly

Ryan Pacheco had racked up 25 wins and more than $700,000 in purses before losing his bug in mid-August while competing mainly at Woodbine. Pacheco did not ride in a race after Sept. 27, as he was injured in a training mishap and has not been back to the racetrack this season.

“I wanted to come back late last year, but I decided to take the time off and get myself ready for this year,” said the 28-year-old Pacheco, who was born in Toronto and is a graduate of Chris McCarron’s North American Riding Academy.

Pacheco said he spent a couple of months this winter in the Philippines, where he went to attend a wedding.

“Ultimately, I want to go back to Hastings,” said Pacheco, who had a good campaign at that Vancouver track with 34 winners in 2010. “That’s the plan right now. But in the next couple of weeks I’m going to be galloping horses here, and if any trainers want me to ride for them, that plan could change.”

Champions plot returns

Several 2011 Sovereign Award-winning horses are on target to see action in the near future, with the first up likely to be Tu Endie Wei.

Canada’s champion 2-year-old filly for owner/breeder Brereton C. Jones and trainer Reade Baker, Tu Endie Wei is on target for Saturday’s $150,000 Star Shoot, a six-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies. Baker also nominated Tu Endie Wei to next Sunday’s $150,000 Woodstock, a six-furlong race in which she would face males.

“Sometimes the Star Shoot’s actually a tougher race,” said Baker.

Atlantic Hurricane, the filly/mare sprint champion, is heading for the April 22 Whimsical, a six-furlong race here April 22 that offers Grade 3 status and a purse of $150,000.

“Right now she’s on track to run there, if everything falls into place,” said Stu Simon, who trains Atlantic Hurricane and owns the mare in partnership with Brent and Russ McClelland and Carl Hollick.

Inglorious, the 3-year-old filly champion, and Musketier, the Sovereign Award winning turf male, are slated to see action at the Keeneland meeting.

The April 20 Doubledogdare, a 1 1/16 mile race for fillies and mares which is Grade 3 and worth $100,000, could be the spot for the seasonal bow of Inglorious.

Musketier is eyeing a third straight win in the April 27 Elkhorn, a 1 1/2-mile turf race that offers Grade 2 status and a purse of $150,000.

Ban reduced for Cruise

Jockey Garry Cruise, who is working here as an exercise rider, has had a six-month suspension reduced to 30 days concluding May 4 and should be set to return to action for the May 7 opening of the Fort Erie meeting.

Cruise had been cited by the stewards for “failing to persevere” aboard last-place finisher Thatswhatyouthink in the fifth race at Fort Erie last Aug. 28, and the Ontario Racing Commission issued a six-month suspension last Aug. 29.

Cruise appealed Aug. 30 and received a stay of the penalty. The racing commission heard his case on April 4 and issued the new ruling, which also places the jockey on probation for two years, from May 4, 2012 to May 3, 2013.

◗ Jason Portuondo worked as a television host for the Woodbine Entertainment Group from 1999 through 2002, and he has returned to the company and will host the Sunday broadcasts.

Portuondo also will be a cost-host along with Laura Diakun on Monday evening’s Bet Night Live Standardbred shows and Wednesday evenings Bet Night Live Thursday shows and will appear on other special feature broadcasts on The Score including the Sept. 16 Woodbine Mile and the Oct. 14 Canadian International.

◗ The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation again will televise the Woodbine Oaks and Plate Trial on June 3 and the Queen’s Plate on June 24.