Patrick Husbands – from Barbados to Woodbine Royalty

From left: Monte McNaughton, Patrick Brown, Patrick Husbands, Sonia Marville-Carter and Michael Copeland

On a bright and sunny Saturday at Woodbine Racetrack, jockey Patrick Husbands celebrated a monumental day in his career. Marking 30 years of excellence, Husbands, originally from Barbados, demonstrated once again why he is considered one of the best in the sport. Winning two out of three races, the day not only highlighted his enduring talent but also underscored the significance of his journey from a young boy in Barbados to a celebrated jockey in Canada.

A career of triumphs and trials, Husbands story began in Barbados, where he grew up in a family with a strong connection to horse racing. His father and two brothers were involved in the sport, creating a natural path for him. However, his journey to Canada, and subsequently to the top of the horse racing world, was anything but straightforward.

The 12-year-old Husbands’ first encounter with Joe Tarr served to kick-start his Canadian career. Tarr was visiting Barbados to recruit riders when he was approached by the young and eager Husbands, who expressed his desire to move to Canada. Despite his youth, the youth’s determination impressed Tarr, and three years later, Husbands found himself working in Canada at the age of 15.

Designer Jennifer Henry gives Patrick Husbands a gift

“My first ride, I fell off. My second ride, my knees gave out, and I thought being a jockey was too tough for me,” Husbands recalled with a laugh. But he persevered. After facing numerous injuries and setbacks, including a significant accident in Trinidad that left him with broken ribs and damaged kidneys, Husbands was persuaded by his brother Anthony to make his way to Canada in 1994; he left behind a promising career in Barbados where he had already set records that still stand.

Husbands’ transition to Canada was not without its challenges. Arriving at Woodbine Racetrack, he found it difficult to get opportunities. “Nothing is easy. Everything is a challenge,” he said. Despite the initial struggles, Husbands’ determination and skill soon began to shine through.

Patrick Brown, Patrick Husbands and his children

Starting at Forth Erie, where he had to rebuild his career from scratch, Husbands eventually moved back to Toronto. There, despite initial resistance from trainers, he started to make a name for himself. A turning point came when trainer Little Marco gave him a chance, leading to his first significant successes in Canada.

Thirty years later, 2024, Woodbine paid tribute to the Barbados-born jockey by celebrating Patrick Husbands’ Day at Woodbine in recognition of his illustrious career. On that day, Husbands competed in three races and won two of them.

Patrick with brother Anthony Husbands

Reflecting on the day, Husbands expressed his gratitude and amazement. “It’s an honour and a pleasure being here this afternoon with my family, friends, and everybody. Never thought this would happen,” he said. “Winning two races today is a perfect way to celebrate 30 years here. The support from the fans and my team has been phenomenal.”

The day was filled with tributes. Michael Copeland, Chief Executive Officer, and Monte McNaughton, Executive Vice President of Industry Relations and People Experience of Woodbine, were among the VIPs present to support him. Husbands was presented with a framed photo featuring all of his plate wins, including those with Wonder, Lucy Liu, and Paramount Prince by Copeland.

From left: Patrick Husbands and Sonia Marville-Carter

Additionally, Council General Sonia Marvel Carter from the National Cultural Foundation of Barbados presented a painting by Frank Levine Jr. while mayor Patrick Brown presented him with a scroll from the City of Brampton.

Husbands also had a message for aspiring jockeys and young athletes: “To all the young kids out there, anything you are good at, don’t let anybody put it down. Just keep trying and one day it is going to pay off,” he encouraged. “I was turned down here at this racetrack, but I kept fighting. Today, I am being celebrated at Woodbine.”

As the day ended, Husbands looked ahead with optimism. “I enjoy the passion of riding horses. I enjoy winning. So there’s no stopping,” he said. His story is a testament to perseverance, talent, and the power of dreams.