Home » Sports » Jockey Damario Bynoe Challenges Again

Jockey Damario Bynoe Challenges Again

June 20, 2024 11:15 AM | Sports

By Scott Taylor (@staylorsports)

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Assiniboia Downs

Damario Bynoe

Assiniboia Downs jockey Damario Bynoe. (SCOTT TAYLOR PHOTO)

While five-time champion trainer Jerry Gourneau turns the trainer’s race at Assiniboia Downs into a rout, the jockey colony is doing exactly what ASD CEO Darren Dunn predicted it would do.

It is waging a competition for ages.

Long before the 50-day 2024 meet started, Dunn called the jockey colony at the Downs, “the most competitive in recent memory,” and that statement was prophetic.

After an incredible fifth week of live thoroughbred racing at ASD, the jockey race could not be more competitive.

This past week, newcomer Rachaad Knights won five races while last year’s champion Antonio Whitehall won three and that tightened the race for the lead in the jockey standings.

So, after five weeks of racing, here’s where we stand: Prayven Badrie, who won twice this past week, continues to lead with 16 wins, eight seconds and seven third-place finishes and $128,062 in earnings for his owners. He’s made 49 starts this season.

Whitehall has moved into second place with 12 wins, 13 seconds and 12 third-place finishes. He’s made a Downs-leading 70 starts and has a Downs-leading $142,210 in winnings.

With his five wins, Knights has moved into a third-place tie with Damario Bynoe. Both jocks have 11 wins. Bynoe is 11-8-3 with $106,711 in earnings while Knights is now 11-4-5 with $93,598 in money winnings. Ronald Ali is now fourth with 10 wins, five second and 13 thirds and $98,939 in winnings.

Bynoe knows very well how competitive this year’s jockey race has been and will continue to be this season.

“It’s a really good jockey colony, very competitive,” said Bynoe, who was wearing a University of Winnipeg Wesmen jacket, a gift from a local owner. “It’s a close jockey colony, too. Everybody pretty much knows everybody else. We have guys from Jamaica, guys from Trinidad and guys from Barbados. Everybody here wants to win, that’s why it’s so competitive. But that’s also what makes it fun.

“Of course, it’s also very dangerous. Crashes are terrible. I fell once and broke my wrist. Other guys I know have suffered terrible injuries. Riding is fun and competitive, but it’s also dangerous.”

Bynoe, one of the Barbadian jocks at ASD, has been racing in North America for eight years, but is in his second full year in Winnipeg. He started as a bug at Northlands Park in Edmonton and after six seasons of riding in Alberta, he decided to bring his tack to the Downs.

“I started at the racetrack there (Garrison Savannah in Bridgetown),” he explained. “My family were all involved in racing. My younger brother Desean is a rider at Woodbine, my cousin is Patrick Husbands, a rider at Woodbine, as well. I grew up around the barns watching the horses.

“I started galloping horses when I was quite young and then at 16, as soon as I could, I became a jockey. I rode there for a few years and I wanted to make a change, so I moved to Alberta. When I was there, I heard a lot of good things about Assiniboia Downs, so I talked to Derek (Corbel), got the paperwork done and I came here.”

Bynoe had 200 starts last season and won 41 races at Assiniboia Downs, good enough for second place behind the riding champion Whitehall who won 56. Bynoe finished in the Top 3, 53 per cent of the time and won a whopping $457,944 for his owners.

“I have been successful because of hard work,” he said bluntly. “That’s it. Every day, I’m here on time, getting the work done. On an average day I’ll get here at 5-6 in the morning, come out and gallop and then at night we ride. I like it here, I’m very comfortable,” he added. “This year, I have one goal: be the champion rider here.”

While Bynoe has as good a shot as anyone at the jockey title this year, on the trainer’s side, it’s all Jerry Gourneau. The man from Turtle Mountain Chippewa Reserve near Belcourt, N.D., has won the last four trainer’s titles and five of the last six. He’s the only trainer in ASD history to win four straight.

This year, it’s likely he’ll become the only trainer to win five in a row. With a track-high 88 starts, he has 18 wins, 15 seconds and 10 third-place finishes and has won $161,963. He’s already nine wins ahead of No. 2, Devon Gittens, who is 9-8-8 in just 43 starts – that’s 45 fewer starts than Gourneau and yet the second most at the Downs this year.

“My whole staff gives it 100 per cent every day no matter what,” Gourneau said. “It starts with the grooms, the ferriers, the jocks, the gallopers, everyone is involved in it and we all know we have to give it 100 per cent if we want to be successful. All the individuals in my barn are striving to do our best and that’s all we can shoot for.”

Racing resumes at ASD next Monday night at 7:35 p.m. and don’t forget, 50/50 tickets are available for racing all next week.