Aaron Gryder once rode seven winners on one day but as he's quick to point out: “Not at the same track. Four of them were at Aqueduct during the afternoon and the other three were at Meadowlands later that night.”
With his movie star looks, the 48-year-old jockey who has literally ridden around the world, was basking in the limelight at Hastings Racecourse Friday after hitting the winner's circle in five consecutive races that included three straight $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes victories.
“It's happened before,” Gryder said later. “I've won five at Churchill Downs, Santa Anita, Aqueduct, Arlington and Hollywood Park twice. Now I can add Hastings to that list.”
It could have been six including all four CTHS Sales Stakes on the seven-race card but for a third-place finish aboard odds-on favourite Daz Lin Dawn in the evening's opening race for three and four-year-old fillies. In a rare three-horse field, Cypress Park with leading rider Enrique Gonzalez finished the 1 1/16 miles in a final time of 1:46.57.
Then it became the Aaron Gryder show. He rode Notice to a comfortable victory in the two-year-old filles stakes followed by wins on Call It a Wrap for two-year-old colts & geldings and Strate Remark for three and four-year-old colts & geldings.
“Aaron is clearly one of the best riders we have on the grounds,” said Canmor Farms owner Ole Nielsen following the win by Notice for trainer Mark Cloutier. “Prior to the race Aaron told me: ‘Don't worry. I know what to do tonight.'”
Little did anyone realize just how serious Gryder was about what he had in mind. He abruptly went out and won back-to-back $50,000 stakes for Riversedge Racing Stables and trainer Craig MacPherson with Call It a Wrap and Strate Remark.
Victory number four was next in the Marathon Series with Gryder guiding Shooting Jacket to a dramatic finish by a head in front Citron Kid. Trained by Keith Pedersen for the 200 owners of Hastings Racing Club I, the celebration poured onto the infield with Gryder the obvious centre of attention.
Four consecutive victories then became five when he urged Chase the Money to cash in for owner/trainer Alex Murray in Gryder's final ride of the night.
“I've ridden all over the world,” Gryder said as the lights dimmed at Hastings Racecourse and the backstretch personnel began to thin out. “I can honestly say I love it here. I have a lot of fun and work with great people. Does it get any better than that?”
Judging by the adulation bestowed upon him by a huge crowd throughout the evening, it would be hard to imagine.
Live racing resumes Monday night at 6 p.m. with free parking offered to patrons on a dark date for the PNE Fair.
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