If you are wondering if new jockey Desean Bynoe can horseback you just have to replay his hustling, all-out ride on Lyla Lorraine in last Sunday's second race at Century Mile.
Breaking very well from post two and getting the first call out of the gate Bynoe and Lyla Lorraine were briefly passed down the backstretch by Phinalwyn from the outside. Then, after being in tight quarters, Princess Robbi found room along the rail and momentarily went by Bynoe and Lyla Lorraine as well.
If that wasn't enough Sky Vue, ranged up four deep and for a short time she had the lead. But Bynoe kept pushing on Lyla Lorraine's neck urging the old mare for everything she had and held on for a neck victory.
It was just his third ride in Canada. "I really had to work for it but it paid off. My horse fought back; she never gave up," said Bynoe, who is just 18 and whose effort in that race was exactly the same as the horse he was riding.
Three separate challenges. Three refusals to give in. "He looks pretty professional on a horse doesn't he?" asked and answered his agent Riley Rycroft, whose dad Tom, is Lyla Lorraine's trainer. "He looked as good as any of the other riders; he definitely didn't look out of place. He's a smart kid; he's got it together."
Originally from Barbados, Bynoe's older brother Damario has been riding in Alberta since 2014. "He's learning quickly," said Damario. "I've been giving him tips especially about how to get out of the gate fast. It's great to have him here - to have family around."
Both Desean and Damario were supposed to race here last year. But they only got as far as Toronto before they were both refused entry to Canada because of the pandemic. "Desean is good. Woodbine good I think," Rycroft said of Canada's top track in Toronto.
Speaking of Woodbine, the two Bynoe brothers have lots of relatives that have - and continue - to do well there. One of their uncles is Patrick Husbands, who has 3,440 wins and won the Sovereign Award as Canada's Outstanding Jockey a record-tying six times including a four-year stretch from 1999 to 2002.
Another uncle is Simon Husbands, Patrick's older brother, who has won 449 races for horses that won $15 million. A third uncle is Anthony Husbands, who trains at Woodbine. That's just for starters. Then there is cousin Christopher Husbands, who, at the age of 16, was the youngest jockey to win the prestigious Trinidad Derby, and who has won 487 races for purses of $5.6 million.
And there is also cousin Terry Husbands, who retired as a jockey in 2016 and now gallops horses at Woodbine, cousin Neil Husbands, who also gallops horses at Woodbine and Ryan Husbands, a third cousin galloping at Woodbine.
More are on the way. "Micah Husbands is just getting started; he's another cousin while another upcoming jockey is Delano Lopez, who won he Barbados Derby last year. "Just about my whole family is involved in horse racing," said Desean. "Uncles, cousins and my brother."
Desean, who won three races in Barbados, said he has learned something from all of them. "I have a lot to learn. I hope I never stop learning. I've got an open mind and I'm willing to learn. I've learned to settle down a horse and make sure they are relaxed. I want to get the best I can out of every horse I ride. I'm just getting started but I want more mounts and more wins."
Rycroft said those will come. "We're taking it slow with Desean. Right now he's mostly galloping horses in the morning for Tom. But he's going to start galloping some horses for Ron Grieves and Tim, my brother, said he'll have some horses for Desean to gallop and hopefully ride too. We just have to find him some fast ones to ride because he can definitely ride. I don't want to put him on any horses he doesn't know."
Naturally light at 110 pounds, Desean said "I watch what I eat and I jog but I don't have to do much to keep my weight down. But there's always room for fitness." Desean started getting on horses in Barbados when he was 11.
When he was just 14 he was already galloping horses in the mornings and he got his jockey's license when he was just 16. He even won aboard his first ever mount.
"Riding horses is all I've ever wanted to do. From the time I was just five-years-old I grew up around horses."
Aside from Damario, who has 151 career victories, Desean has a third brother, Devon. "But he doesn't want to be a jockey. He's small but he wants to play football. He tried horses but he didn't like it."
That's the opposite of Desean. "I really want to be successful in this business. I work hard. And I'll always work hard. I'll keep my head on straight and stay humble no matter what happens. I try to forget the negatives and concentrate instead on the positives."
Alberta can certainly use more new riders like Desean especially given that there are only 12 jockeys at Century Mile right now. "I'm worried," said Allan Goodsell, a trainer and executive director of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA).
"Jockeys get hurt. It's a dangerous business. Last year we lost two riders on opening day because of injuries. Rico Walcott and Adrian Gonzalez both got hurt. Rico, the leading rider, was fortunately only out for a week but Gonzalez missed the entire year.
"If one or two jockeys get hurt or even sick we're in trouble. You have to be able to give owners and trainers a wide range of choices of jockeys."
Alberta isn't alone. Goodsell said in B.C. there are 11 riders. Winnipeg only has about 14 jockeys and Lethbridge's Rocky Mountain Turf Club has just 10 jockeys.
"If we combined our jockey pool in all those jurisdictions we'd be alright," said Goodsell. "We're hoping to have four more jockeys in Edmonton in the near future."
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