It's tough to say who was the greatest jockey in Fort Erie's rich history. It's fair to say, though, that Sandy Hawley is at least in the photo.
Desmond Sanford Hawley started his career at the age of 17 when he started hanging around a Toronto track. Within a couple of years, he was riding in races and winning them.
Hawley was a frequent visitor to the Fort and its winner's circle. He won 230 races in 1969, and then went on to be the top winning jockey in the United States four times in the '70s. In 1973 he became the first jockey to win 500 races in a year.
The numbers are staggering. Hawley finished with 6,450 wins, including four in the Queen's Plate. He's in the Horse Racing Hall of Fame and Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, among many other honors.
Hawley even beat skin cancer along the way, overcoming a diagnosis in 1987 that gave him only a few months to live. He now works for Woodbine Entertainment and lives near Toronto.
-- Budd Bailey
Sports Ink blog at buffalonews.com/blogs