Right from the very beginning there were always horses.

When Chris Loseth was just a sandy-haired toddler, barely two years old, his parents propped him up on a chunky horse named Blaze and snapped a photo. They gave him that photo as a birthday gift years later, complete with winning race time: 12:30—in the afternoon. Maybe not his best ride, but it marked the first time one of the greatest jockeys in the history of Canadian racing ever sat astride a horse.

A few years later, when Loseth was ten, after he and his younger brother Jim had grown adept at catching packhorses roaming free on the open ranges near their Fort Nelson home, he flipped across an article in the weekly edition of the Winnipeg Free Press describing Johnny Longden’s 6,000th win at Vancouver’s Exhibition Park. The piece made such an impression on Loseth his mind was made up to become a jockey just like Longden.

After graduating from high school in Grand Forks in 1972, he came to Exhibition Park and worked under the watchful eyes of trainer Alan May for two years, starting off as a hot-walker for $60 a week and living in a tack room at the racetrack. Former jockey Dennis Terry was also an important influence. Loseth began racing as an apprentice jockey in 1974, riding four winners that autumn, his first winning ride aboard a horse named Stormy Don.

From there, Loseth grabbed the reins of success and let it ride. In 1976, he won his first Sovereign Award as Canada’s outstanding apprentice rider. His second Sovereign, this time as Canada’s outstanding jockey, arrived in 1984, making him the first rider to win as both apprentice and jockey.

Over his career, he’d finish as the leading jockey an unprecedented eight times at Hastings, where he remains the all-time leading rider. In over 26,000 races, he was first to the wire 3,668 times and compiled over 6,500 seconds and thirds. His mounts earned more than $32 million, which includes three of the top money-earning BC thoroughbreds of all-time: Delta Colleen, Travelling Victor and Police Inspector. His 1984 win aboard Travelling Victor in the $150,000 Longacres Mile in Seattle remains his proudest accomplishment.

Loseth was good, but he’s the first to admit he was also lucky. In over 30 years and 26,000+ races flying five feet in the air amidst a pack of 40mph thundering half-ton beasts, the 5’2” 116-lb Loseth, wearing only a Caliente helmet for protection, never once broke a single bone in his body.

Some jockeys break the same bone six to seven times in a career; the legendary Longden broke his legs five times. Loseth chalks it up to possessing the most pliable bones in any human being he’s ever come across. He’s fallen off countless horses including once when the full weight of a horse’s hoof slammed down on his thigh during a race. The sheer force cut the muscles to the bone, which by all rights should have shattered. It bent into a U-shape, but didn’t break. Doctors hadn’t seen anything like it.

Then there was the night of April 9, 1984 at Exhibition, an evening where he was both lucky and good. On the ten-event card, Loseth rode eight winners putting his name in the Guinness Book of World Records for most wins on a single racing card.

Accolades began appearing even when Loseth was still coming down the home stretch of his career. In 1992, he was inducted into the BC Horse Racing Hall of Fame, and, in 2007, the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. In 2001, he was the recipient of the prestigious Avelino Gomez Memorial Award.

Loseth retired unexpectedly in 2005, dipping his toe in the scalding hot tub one morning and deciding the races that afternoon would be his last. His career was celebrated with Chris Loseth Day at Hastings Park on May 22, 2006. Today, he remains involved as an owner and trainer of horses.

From ranges to races, the paddock to the penthouse, there have always been horses for Chris Loseth. That will always remain.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.