By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
SCENE & HEARD: Local track historians cannot recall the last time four riders were so closely bunched in the running for Leading Jockey honours as summer turns to fall and the racing season takes a chilly turn into the home stretch.
With just a dozen race days left on the 2019 Hastings calendar heading into this weekend, the quartet of Enrique Gonzalez, Antonio Reyes, Richard Hamel and Amadeo Perez all have a legitimate shot at finishing first and grasping the cherished horsemen’s ring as king of the jocks room.
Total earnings aside, the Leading Jockey title goes to the rider with the most wins at the conclusion of each season.
Currently, you could throw a horse blanket over the top four with Gonzalez having won 43 races, Reyes, 42, Hamel, 41 and Perez, 39.
Dramatic finishes are old hat to these guys, with the exception of Reyes who has yet to be in the running this late in the game.
Hamel has five championship rings after winning three successive years (2017, 2016, 2015) to go along with back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2010.
Perez, a three-time winner, led the pack last season as well as 2014 and 2012. Gonzalez took the title in 2013 with an incredible streak of 12 first-place finishes over the final four days of racing, nosing out Perez by a margin of just two victories, 59 to 57 when the smart money appeared to be on Amadeo.
All four this year have been dominant in stakes performances at Hastings with Gonzalez and Hamel each in the winner’s circle on seven occasions, Reyes four times and Perez three. Just in the past month Perez made headlines with wins aboard Explode in the $250,000 Canadian Derby in Edmonton and Coulterberry in the $50,000 (US) Muckleshoot Tribal Classic at Emerald Downs, both trained by Mark Cloutier.
Six stakes with purses totaling $550,000 remain on the local calendar, beginning with the $100,000 Sadie and Jack Diamond Futurities this weekend, the $100,000 Ballerina on Sept. 28, $100,000 BC Premiers on Sept. 29, followed by the $75,000 Fantasy and $75,000 Ascot over the Oct. 13-14 weekend.
When the season ends on Sunday, Oct. 27, one of the current leading Four Horsemen will be crowned champion of the jockey colony, Class of 2019. Between now and then, settle in for some thrilling rides.