Will Humphrey returns from injury with a flourish
Apprentice jockey Will Humphrey is less than three weeks removed from a scary spill that sent him to the sidelines.
After steering Nathan Detroit to victory Saturday afternoon at Laurel Park, that injury feels far in the past.
“A relief, to be honest with you. I can’t lie,” Humphrey said afterwards. “I had butterflies before today, which I never do. So it couldn’t be better.”
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Humphrey was injured July 27 when the very same horse, Nathan Detroit, clipped heels rounding the first turn in the Colonial Cup at Colonial Downs. Since Nathan Detroit was in mid-pack at the time, Humphrey got banged around pretty thoroughly.
The primary visible injury was to his elbow, where he received stitches, but there was more to it than that, he said.
“I really badly hurt my collarbone, which was the worst,” Humphrey said. “I never actually got an x-ray, so I don’t know whether it was cracked or not, but it was sore, I can tell you. Where the stitches were on the elbow, I couldn’t really do anything [without risking pulling them]. And I got kicked around a lot down there, so I was just sore all over. I needed every bit of two weeks.”
Humphrey returned with a sixth-place finish in Saturday’s fourth race before being reunited with Nathan Detroit in a $62,000 allowance/optional claimer. The duo had teamed up with two firsts and a third in four tries prior to the Colonial Cup.
In Saturday’s contest, Humphrey and Nathan Detroit, a four-year-old Union Rags colt, bided their time several lengths off the lead while saving ground in the early going. Inside the three sixteenths, Humphrey steered Nathan Detroit to the outside for a clear run, and the horse responded sharply, powering home to win by three parts of a length over Cannon’s Roar.
“We always thought he was a nice horse,” Humphrey said. “He’s got a wicked turn of foot there, and I felt they were going pretty quick up front. I was happy that if I could just have him in contention turning into the lane, his turn of foot should hopefully put him in a good position.”
Running time for 1 1/16 miles over good turf was 1:44.37. Cannon’s Roar held second, while So Street, who dueled for the lead in the early part of the race, finished third, Post time favorite Summer to Remember faded to finish sixth and last.
The win continued a productive relationship between Humphrey and trainer Norman Cash, who both owns, as Built Wright Stables LLC, and trains all his own horses, including Nathan Detroit. As the day began, Cash had given Humphrey a leg up 43 times, and the 20-year-old jockey had returned victorious in nine of those outings.
“I couldn’t thank him enough for all the support he’s given me,” Humphrey said. “He’s got some wonderful horses. They’re a pleasure to ride.”
Humphrey, 20, originally is from Newmarket, England, where his mother trains steeplechase horses.
“I was born and bred into the game and somehow ended up riding horses in Laurel,” Humphrey joked. “It’s a long way from home, and it’s a long way from three miles over fences.”
Humphrey arrived in the U. S. last November, galloping horses for trainer Graham Motion, who helped him obtain a visa. He went winless with four mounts in 2021 before earning his first career victory April 14 aboard the Anthony Farrior-trained Zorb.
Following the score on Nathan Detroit, Humphrey came back three races later to win again, this time with the Cash-trained Eastern Bay. On the season, Humphrey has won with 21 of 161 mounts with purse earnings now in excess of $700,000. At the current Laurel meet, he’s 12-for-75 and just outside the track’s top 10 by wins.
So, yes, it’s a long way from home, but so far, so good.
“Hopefully, I’ll be here long term,” the jockey said. “You know, I really enjoy it here. I like the people, and I like the lifestyle, and it’s going well, so definitely no plan to go back.”