EYE ON LIVE
NEW FEATURE: K-R-M pick their best
Kirt, Rob and Marshall put their handicapping smarts on the line every Wednesday
Track announcer Kirt Contois, paddock host Rob MacLennan and Fan Education specialist Marshall Posner will put their handicapping skills to the test in every Wednesday’s Insider with their best bets on the live card. Additionally, each will add a longshot with a chance if they have one. Here’s what they like tonight (interestingly, each has a different best bet!).
- Kirt’s best bet: Race 8 -- #8 War Hero
- Rob’s best bet: Race 2 – #1 Papa Smitty
- Marshall’s best bet: Race 3 -- #5 Desert Summer (dropping speed with hot-jock Adolfo Morales). Longshot with a chance: Race 7 -- #6 Back Away (long layoff but runs well fresh).
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Canada's oldest jock celebrates birthday with ASD
Jerry Pruitt marks his 66th Saturday
(Reprinted from my At the Races column in the Canstar papers)
Oldest jockey in Canada has no intention of retiring soon
Jerry Pruitt shows how close he came to beating Bill Shoemaker
If he were a professional football player or hockey player or a pro in most other sports, Jerry Pruitt would long ago have hung up his gear. But as a senior citizen jockey at Assiniboia Downs and the oldest rider in Canada (and the U.S.?), Pruitt is still going strong and has no intention of abandoning the saddle anytime soon. He has ridden in 19,560 races, has 2,553 wins and his horses have earned more than $9 million.
“My body will tell me when,” he says, and adds that’s not even close. He turns 66 on June 10 which also happens to be Assiniboia Downs’ birthday.
So what accounts for his longevity? Besides his enjoyment of the game (“I LOVE winning,” he says), he is in the enviable position of not having to fight to retain riding weight (it’s a consistent 108-110 pounds, he says). “I love my candy,” he admits, and, unlike most other jockeys, says he is able to indulge frequently and digs into steak dinners—with baked potato, of course—without worrying about having to hit the sweat box the next day.
It helps, too, to have a wife, Lise, who loves the game as much as he does. They own five horses—three that race and two weanlings—and she does the training. His son, Brady, 22, has worked as a groom and he has two daughters: Lexie, 16, and Sierra, 14, who does a bit of riding.
Pruitt doesn’t get as many mounts as he used to or win as often (he was leading jockey at various meets at now-defunct tracks in western U.S.) but he does knock off a stakes race or two that has him grinning broadly in the Winner’s Circle.
He and horse owner Robert Nokes, in fact, teamed up to win the Frank Arnason Sire Stakes the past two years. Last year, Pruitt had a total of eight wins from 97 starts at the Downs plus 11 seconds and 13 thirds.
One of the more memorable highlights in his life, he says, was his third race ever at 19 at Del Mar race track in southern California when he came within a whisker of beating racing legend and hall of fame jockey Bill Shoemaker. “I came THAT close,” he still recalls, making a pinching motion with a thumb and finger.
Not bad for a kid who started out as a reluctant 12-year-old who tearfully would fall off a horse, only to have his father —an exercise rider at a Mexican track near the U.S. border—“throw me back on.”
Watch out if you see Pruitt riding a horse that has a good chance of getting the lead. You’ll get a relentless ride – and maybe a big payoff to boot. Which could have you uttering: “Thanks, gramps!”