By Rebecca Roush
Returning to the saddle just last Thursday after suffering a back injury during training in late May, jockey Leslie Mawing says he is recovered and ready for more racing.
Growing up in South Africa on a racehorse ranch, Mawing watched his father train, his older brother ride, and his cousin have a successful racing career. When he was a teen, Mawing says he would often “joy ride” on the ponies that were at the ranch. “I was always an adrenaline junkie and I loved animals, so naturally I became a jockey,” he recalled.
At just 19 years old, Mawing made the move to the United States, where he made his professional debut on June 26, 1994 at Les Bois Park in Idaho. Since then, the 5-foot-3 inch rider has raced at tracks “all across the country.” Mawing has racked up just under 2,600 wins from his nearly 18,800 career starts and has earned more than $29.5 million for his connections.
After racing at Canterbury Park in 2001 and 2002, Mawing moved back to Idaho to race at tracks that were closer to his wife Caty to help raise their children, Aidan (14), Dominic (12), and Jade (8). He returned to Minnesota in 2017 to race at Canterbury Park and decided to make the move with his family to Prior Lake. “We really like it here,” he said. “Besides the beauty of the state, the comradery and the atmosphere at the track are beyond anything I have experienced anywhere else,” Mawing added.
After his recent fall, Mawing is reminded of just how dangerous the sport of horse racing can be, but says that it won’t stop him from getting back out there. “I live by the motto ‘seize the day.’ We only have so much time in this world and it is important to live each day like it is our last, which means spending it doing something you love,” he commented.
“The first couple weeks of recovery were tough,” Mawing said. “But I am blessed that it was only a hairline fracture and I didn’t need to have surgery,” he added. “The doctors initially gave me a recovery time of two to three months, but my good health allowed my body to heal much faster.”
When Mawing began racing he set a goal to win three thousand races. As he approaches that goal he hopes to become a racing official when his riding career ends. “It would be too hard to cut racing out completely when I retire, so I hope to stay involved in any way that I can,” he said.
It did not take long for Mawing to find the winner’s circle. He won two races on Friday evening.