A CIRCUITOUS TRIP FROM ONE CONTINENT TO ANOTHER

By JIM WELLS

Wanted: A three- or four- bedroom, two-, possibly three-bath home in Prior Lake or Lakeville with easy access to Shakopee, specifically Canterbury Park, close to good schools, big enough to accommodate tall young men, projected tall enough to play a forward or certainly a guard position on the prep basketball team, although the youngest seems more interested right now in soccer.

And, no more than, say, a half acre that requires care, specifically regular mowing, and yet the space necessary to accommodate two dogs and three cats.

Contact Leslie Mawing, jockeys’ lounge at Canterbury with specifics.  The Mawings have already sold the 10-acre homestead in Idaho and are ready to relocate at earliest notice “I had a very nice John Deere riding lawnmower but I sold it,’’ Mawing said. “No more acreage.’’

Mawing, his wife, Caty, and three children are ready to plant new roots. There is, of course, employment for dad at Canterbury, riding horses for whatever barns are willing to give him work. There are trainers here who undoubtedly recall him from the past. He spent the 2001, 2002 and 2003 meets in Shakopee, and has returned now to a state he and his wife value for its education system.

“That’s the reason we want to move here,’’ Mawing said. “It’s a good place for kids. They’ll get a good education here.’’

More immediate, however, is a paycheck. “I’m still trying to re-establish relationships with trainers who know me,’’ he said. “Some of them have regular riders so it will take some time, but I like it here. It’s a good place to raise a family.’’

A native of South Africa, Mawing, lost his parents as a youngster, his mother when he was nine, his father at 16.  Race-riding was in the family. He has a cousin prominent among South African jockeys and his father had always been fond of racing.  As he gravitated toward the sport his inclinations also included the United States and he landed here at age 19.  The change of venue includes some adjustments as well. “We race in South Africa in the other directions and primarily on turf,’’ he explained, “although that is changing now somewhat.’’

As are the Mawing’s life plans.

Mawing’s career has been centered largely in California and Washington, although he has ridden in the East as well and in the Southwest, at Turf Paradise in Phoenix.  “I’ve ridden in up-state New York, in Philly, too,’’ he said.

Now 43 years of age, Mawing knows that his health is paramount to uninterrupted employment, and he does his best to say fit, running 5 to 10k six times a week with trips to the health club as well, swimming and engaging in other fitness routines.

“You a jockey?” a regular at the club asked him recently. “Yeah, I have three mounts on today’s card,’’ Mawing responded. “What are you, in your twenties?’’ the fellow continued. “No, I’m 43,’’ he said. “Boy, you jockeys age well,’’ the fellow added.

Mawing chuckled while relating the comment. But his attention to health is sincere.  His biggest concern right now is his family. He has to stay healthy to ride, to make money and support them. Ten-year-old Dominic is trying out for the Minnesota Youth Soccer league. There is also 13-year-old Aidan and seven-year-old Jade, who was considerably upset when the family had to part with their horses to relocate in Minnesota.

According to their father, the boys are projected to produce frames of six-feet-four and six-feet-two, so it goes without saying that they inherited certain genetics from their mother, who is 5-foot-10, and not dad at five-five. In addition, they might have inherited a writing ability of some kind. Caty publishes horse-racing fiction she writes on the internet.

Mawing will have to consider a new winter-time site at which to race, one that aligns with summers at Canterbury, something such as Turf Paradise where he is already familiar. “I could still fly up and spend time with the family,’’ he said, “and not worry about taking care of acreage while I’m here. The main reason we’re here is the education system.’’

The Mawings have their priorities outlined and they include a permanent home in Minnesota. There is the school system here, although Caty also has relatives in Red Wing and a close friend in Rosemount.

And a husband who was displaying a sense of humor at Canterbury on Saturday.  After losing the second race on Back Alley Warrior, by perhaps the width of a nostril to Justcallme Charlie and rider Jareth Loveberry,  Mawing walked into the Coady Photo Studio near the jockeys lounge at Canterbury. “Hey, let me see that photo,’’ he said.

The photo revealed just how close the race had been. To the naked eye it might have gone either way.

“C’mon you guys,’’ give a brother a break,’’ he said. “I got three kids to feed. The other guy doesn’t have any.’’

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