By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport


SCENE & HEARD:  When photographer Ralph Bower summoned the jockeys for a group photo with visiting Mario Gutierrez prior to the start of racing on BC Cup Day at Hastings last Monday, it hit home just how thin the rider ranks are these days.

Among the missing were Amadeo Perez, sidelined with a separated shoulder; Scott Williams, gone for the season with a cracked T5 vertebrae and Enrique Gonzalez, who had flown home to his native Mexico last weekend upon hearing of his father’s sudden passing.

At the urging of Gutierrez, Jeff Burningham interrupted his physio to join in as he continues to battle back from multiple career-threatening injuries suffered following a spill in mid-July.

When Bower did his head count there were 12 jockeys in the photo with only eight of them making up the current roster of regular riders.

Besides Mario, there were two other guest jockeys in the picture:  Rigo Sarmiento from Century Mile and Sahin Civaci from Woodbine.  They’d answered the call to ride Monday given the sudden shortage of jockeys available for BC Cup Day.

It isn’t known at this point if Gonzalez, leading rider this year with 34 wins, plans to return for the balance of the Hastings schedule. Perez hopes to be back in time to ride Explode in the $250,000 Canadian Derby next Sunday (Aug. 18) in Edmonton for owner Ole Nielsen and trainer Mark Cloutier.  The 2018 Champion Two-Year-Old has won three in a row and five of his last six all with Perez, including $50,000 stakes on June 2 (River Rock Casino) and June 30 (Chris Loseth Handicap).

It would be an inspiration for the jockey colony at Hastings to have Perez healthy enough to return for the Canadian Derby, not to mention a huge relief for Nielsen and Cloutier.