TORONTO, Canada – Legendary Barbadian jockey Patrick Husbands has remembered the late Eugene Melnyk for his “passionate” love of horse racing and Barbados, and praised the business magnate’s contribution to his riding career.
Melnyk passed away late last month at age 62 after battling an undisclosed illness. Worth an estimated CAN$1.2 billion, the Canadian owned ice hockey club Ottawa Senators but was also deeply involved in racehorse ownership, making a significant mark at Woodbine racetrack.
A two-time champion owner, Melnyk’s horses were often named after communities in Barbados, a country for which he developed a deep affinity, and often raced in silks reflecting the national colours of the Caribbean nation.
“Eugene was passionate about horse racing and the opportunities it produces for others,” said Husbands, who rode for Melnyk over the years.
“He also loved Barbados and its people. We had some memorable victories and overcame some trying times, but Eugene was also a gentleman and my friend.
“His belief in me to ride Sealy Hill in 2007 stands out for me among a career of victories. Eugene could’ve hired any jockey but he took Mark’s (Casse) advice and we rode into history together.”
Sealy Hill was Canada’s 2007 Horse-of-the-Year, becoming the first filly to claim the famed Canadian Triple Tiara champion by capturing the Labatt Woodbine Oaks, Bison City Stakes, and Wonder Where Stakes all under Husbands.
Another Melnyk horse, Archers Bay, won the first two legs of the 1998 Canadian Triple Crown – the Queen’s Plate and the Prince of Wales Stakes – with jockey Kent Desormeaux aboard.
Under Husbands and in partnership with champion trainer Casse, the Melnyk-owned Arch Hall – sired by Archers Bay – won the Sir Barton Stakes for three straight years at Woodbine between 2004 and 2007.
Husbands also won the 2010 Sandy Lane Barbados Gold Cup in Melnyk’s silks, piloting Sterwins.
“Eugene Melnyk was a true Canadian sportsman, one of our leading owners, and a dear friend of Woodbine and the horse racing industry here in Ontario,” said Woodbine chief executive, Jim Lawson.
“His contributions to the sport were significant and he was recognized with many accomplishments and awards along the way.”
Melnyk scaled down his horse racing involvement nearly a decade ago and was inducted into the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2017.
He was laid to rest here earlier this week. (CMC)