by Tom Schram
Terry Houghton, who regularly tops the standings at Great Lakes Downs, moved into an exclusive club June 3 when he became the 99th North American jockey to win his 3,000th race. Houghton reached the milestone aboard Blossom Hill in the first race.
"Since I was little, this is what I've wanted to do," said Houghton, 32, whose rides mainly at Great Lakes Downs in Michigan and winters at Tampa Bay Downs in Florida, with occasional trips to the bigger circuits.
Houghton topped the earnings standings at Tampa Bay Downs this year, but lost the leading rider title by four wins to Manny Cruz when he left the track two weeks before the season ended to ride in Michigan. Through June 3, he ranked seventh among U.S. jockeys with 129 wins, and though he had to settle for a trio of second-place finishes on the remainder of the program, he got win No. 3,001 in the opener June 4, and scored in three other races on the eight-race card.
Breeding has a lot to do with Houghton's success. His father, Ronnie, was a mainstay at Hazel Park and Detroit Race Course during the 1960s and 1970s. Terry was a high school wrestling star at Hazel Park High School in suburban Detroit before he turned to racing full time.
"It's his dedication," Ronnie Houghton said. "He has always wanted to be a jockey."