Nikolaou captures Puss N Boots Cup at Fort Erie Race Track

Despite spending a majority of the race well back from the lead, veteran jockey Chris Husbands knew that Nikolaou had it in him to steal the finish and win the Puss N Boots Cup on Monday at Fort Erie Race Track.

“I was just biding my time, sitting behind,” said Husbands after the race. “When I was coming on the last turn, he picked up like, ‘come on let’s go,’ so I said alright let’s roll, then we came around and he went right through to the finish.”

Trainer Kevin Buttigieg said that while Nikolaou is a bit of an odd bird, he had faith in the horse.

“He’s a horse with a lot of talent,” said Buttegieg. “A lot of quirks, a lot of kinks, but we try to work them all out for the race.”

The $30,000 Puss N Boots Cup is run each year at the Fort Erie Race Track in honour of another quirky horse.

In 1961, a horse named Puss N Boots was leading a race at the top of the stretch, when he decided to veer inward and take a refreshing dip in the infield pond. In honour of his impromptu swim, Fort Erie Race Track holds the Puss n Boots Cup every summer. In 1996, owner Robert Elkins boasted that he’d jump into the infield lake if his horse Dancing for Beans won the race. Rider Francine Villeneuve brought her horse from last to first, sending Elkins for a swim. Each year since, the winning connections take the traditional jump into the infield pond.

This year, Kevin was still recovering from a leg injury, so his wife, Sarah, took the infield plunge for him, alongside Husbands.

Jockey Christopher Husbands guides Nikolaou to victory in the $30,000 Guaranteed Puss n Boots Cup for owner Henely Thoroughbreds Ltd. and trainer Kevin Buttigieg. Michael burns photoFort Erie, On Sept. 4 2023 Jockey Christopher Husbands and assistant trainer Sarah Buttigieg jump in the pond after the victory in the $30,000 Puss n Boots Cup at Fort Erie Racetrack

Winning jockey Chris Husbands keeps the Puss N Boots tradition going by taking a plunge into the infield pond after the race.

-Photos courtesy Michael Burns Photography

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