By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
SCENE & HEARD: Aaron Gryder put Hastings Racecourse on the international racing map last Friday night when he blazed into the spotlight with five wins in consecutive races, including three straight $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes features.
The Jockey’s Guild that represents more than 950 riders in North America named Gryder Jockey of the Week and the story was picked up by national racing publications everywhere.
While Gryder himself seemed to take it all in stride, one of his most ardent supporters freely expressed his thoughts about the veteran jockey who has performed the world over.
“Aaron is probably the most accomplished rider to ever ride at Hastings,” says Glen Todd, the active horse owner who has Gryder under contract on a first-call basis. “Even at age 48 he still has it. Without any sign of fear he knows that the shortest way around the track is on the rail and he can get there quicker than any rider I have ever seen at Hastings.”
Todd lured Gryder to Vancouver at the start of the 2013 thoroughbred season and the two hit if off right from the start. “Aaron is really a classy guy,” Todd says. “He goes out of his way to say hello to people and is always willing to promote our sport in any way he can. I have great respect for him. His record speaks for itself.”
It was quite a coup by Todd to land the former leading rider at Aqueduct, Hollywood Park, Churchill Downs, Arlington Park and Golden Gate.
“I still want a lot out of my career,” Gryder said upon his arrival at Hastings five years ago. “This is a great opportunity and I didn’t want to let it pass by. I enjoy riding for a man who loves the game so much.”
Todd is justifiably credited with helping to mould the outstanding career of two-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey Mario Gutierrez who launched his career at Hastings.
With news that Mario will be returning to his roots for BC Derby & BC Oaks Day on Saturday, Sept. 8 riding Canadian Game for Reddam Racing and trainer Doug O’Neill, it should make for some lively competition between Gryder and Gutierrez.