At a place where the usual emotional expression is cheers, Woodbine Racetrack had its fair share of tears today.
An emotional ceremony held today at the Toronto race track following the seventh race brought the entire facility to a standstill, and had most, if not all, of Woodbine’s racing community who gathered on the grass of the E.P. Taylor turf track in tears.
The gathering, the remembering and the moment of silence was held because of the untimely and tragic death of Darren Fortune, an exercise rider and outrider at the track, who succumbed to injuries after the horse he was exercising collided with another horse early Friday morning on the Woodbine main course.
Fellow outriders brought Fortune’s horse to the front of the gathered crowd, and Fortune’s partner Aimee Auger, herself a jockey who was scheduled to ride in two races today at Woodbine, held Fortune’s helmet and goggles as she nestled her head beside his horse and gave him a kiss.
It was time to remember Fortune, and to hold on to loved ones a little tighter.
Woodbine outrider Robert Love held onto the reins of Fortune’s horse during the ceremony, and leaned over and kissed Auger, below.
And it was Love himself, in a strange coincidence prior to the seventh race and ceremony, who raced out along the Tapeta surface track to corral Seattle Sound, below, who had tossed rider Gary Boulanger during the post parade – something Darren Fortune himself would have had the responsibility of doing had the unfortunate incident not have occurred Friday.
Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson pauses Saturday in front of the floral wreath placed near the winner’s circle for Fortune.