By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
SCENE & HEARD: For a while last Sunday it appeared there would be a real life Hollywood-type comeback story in the works during the $100,000 Ascot Graduation at Hastings Racecourse.
Jockey Scott Williams was back in a competitive saddle at Hastings for the first time since June of last year when he announced his retirement after ringing up earnings totaling almost $5 million in his aspiring career.
At 26, he appeared to be in prime time, having won a Sovereign Award as Top Apprentice Jockey in Canada in 2012.
Born in North Vancouver and raised in Edmonton, Scott certainly had the pedigree to be an exceptional rider. His father Danny was the leading apprentice at Hastings in 1978. His late grandfather Ronnie, also a successful jockey in Vancouver, was inducted into the B.C. Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 1989.
But Scott decided last summer he’d grown tired of battling weight issues. “If I wasn’t in the hot sauna, then I was jogging in the rain or running in the sun,” he said at the time. “Trying to maintain the proper riding weight became tiresome. I just didn’t want to do it any longer.”
The itch wouldn’t go away, however, and Scott rode in eight races at Grande Prairie, Alberta this year, the last being on July 29.
He’s been galloping in the mornings at Hastings for owner/trainer Glen Todd, working with the starting gate crew and frequenting the jockeys room as a valet helping his former riding competitors prepare for races.
Todd entered two horses in last Sunday’s Ascot and looked to Williams to ride Boundary Bay as a “rabbit” for the Todd camp’s co-favourite Pan Handle with David Lopez in the irons.
Lo and behold, Boundary Bay at 10-1 was running neck-and-neck with eventual winner Wise Market into the final turn before fading in the stretch of the 1 1/16-mile distance.
While Pan Handle did get up for fourth, Boundary Bay finished eighth in the nine-horse field but not before creating quite a stir among long- time followers of the Williams clan at Hastings.
The Hollywood script will have to wait for another day.