FAIR GROUNDS’ “BELLA” RIDERS POSTIVELY AMAZING

Joe.Kristufek@twinspires.com

 

Sophie Doyle to compete in Friday’s
International Jockey Challenge in Saudi Arabia

 

New Orleans (February 25, 2020) – It’s been a mix of successes, obstacles and setbacks, but one thing is certain, the 2019-2020 racing season has been one of enlightenment for the ladies of the Fair Grounds jock’s room.

They each have unique backgrounds and are at different stages of their careers, but when it comes to the spirited competition they live every day, Sophie Doyle, Chantal Sutherland, Erica Murray and Aubrie Green are each other’s greatest supporters.

“I feel like sometimes women can get a little bit catty and I think it is better off to be happy and positive,” Doyle said. “Coming into this meet, I was determined to transform the (ladies) jock’s room into a place full of warmth and good, positive energy.”

According to Doyle, their home away from home was painted and decorated. The pink lights cool the energy and meditation music relaxes the environment. When they’re not riding, the female jockeys often do yoga, exercise, and work on their fitness.

“It’s homey and comfortable and I think the atmosphere and the mindset has helped all of us go out there and ride really well,” Doyle added. “We are having a great time in the room and rooting for each other to do well. If you’re having a bad day, we pick each other up. We turn the page and go back out there with a clear head and the right frame of mind.”

Winless from just two mounts here last season, Erica Murray is Fair Grounds’ leading lady with 15 victories this season and she’s in the midst of the best run of her six-year career.

“It is so awesome,” Murray said. “It is so nice to ride with women who support each other. I grew up idolizing Sophie and Chantel, so being able to ride with them is amazing. I know Aubrie (injured) isn’t riding here right now, but we still support each other in every way. It has been such a tightknit room. We all give advice and root for each other. It is very uplifting.”

Injured on January 5 when her mount Stang’s Galaxy flipped in the gate and was scratched, Green was forced to undergo surgery to repair ligament damage in her left ankle.

“When the horse flipped and pinned my ankle, she actually tore a major ligament that holds the tendons in place,” Green explained. “Because of that, my tendons were dislocating.”

Prior to the injury, Green had five Fair Grounds wins at the current stand, including a memorable score aboard 8-1 shot Pound for Pound in the Louisiana Champions Day Classic. She hopes to get back on horses in mid to late April.

“I haven’t been in the room for a couple weeks, but I walk in today and you can just feel the love,” Green said. The camaraderie is great. We all support each other, and are genuinely happy when one of us wins instead of being jealous or mad. Usually when you have a group of girls together you have a lot of cattiness and jealousy. This meet we decided we weren’t going to be like that. We wanted to try to support each other and build each other up. It’s changed the dynamic of our whole meet.”

With 1,007 career wins, 22 graded stakes scores, and a trio of grade one triumphs aboard Game On Dude, Sutherland is easily the most accomplished of the Fair Grounds’ female riders, but most of those successes came earlier in her career in her native Toronto and in Southern California.

She’s been a TV star and featured in magazines, but since moving her tack to Fair Grounds and Kentucky, Sutherland is pressing the reset button, to an extent. A crafty ride aboard She’sonthewarpath put her into the winner’s circle following the Albert M. Stall Memorial Stakes less than two weeks ago, and she’s is enjoying this stage of the career journey with Sophie, Erica and Aubrie.

“I’m really happy how we have all bonded and supported each other,” Sutherland said. “I think Fair Grounds has done a great job re-painting the room, giving us really nice TVs and great sofas. It is just a really nice place to live in. We are here so often, so we are all really grateful for that. We are just like sisters!”

Born in England, Doyle comes from a racing family. Her mother Jacqueline is a former trainer and brother James is an accomplished European jockey. She enjoyed success as an apprentice rider back home before crossing the pond into the United States, where she has won 289 races. Last year she won trio of graded stakes with Street Band – the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), the Indiana Oaks (G3) at Indiana Grand and the Cotillion (G1) at Parx. The Cotillion marked the first grade one victory of her career.

This week, Doyle will embark on what she hopes will be another fruitful adventure, as she travels to Saudi Arabia to compete against 13 of the best riders in the world, both male and female, in Friday’s International Jockeys Challenge.

“Ten years ago, we (female jockeys) couldn’t go and race there,” Doyle said of Saudi Arabia. “I’m curious to see just how different it is now.”

Saudi women are treated as second class citizens. They can’t wear clothes or make-up that show off their beauty. Public transportation, parks, beaches and amusement parks are segregated in most parts of the country. In 2015, Saudi Arabia proposed hosting the Olympic Games, but only if the events for women were eliminated.

Times are changing. In 2017, under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi state schools announced offering physical education classes to both boys and girls and they began allowing men and women to attend sporting events. The following year, a royal decree granted women the right to drive vehicles.

“Even though they are allowed to drive now, they still have to have a man present in the car with them,” Doyle said. “I went to Aman one year to get my Visa one year and the woman told me they weren’t allowed to drive cars and that they had never seen it. We took the car off road and I drove them all around this back village. They all had faces of disbelief. Driving a car is just one of many freedoms we take for granted.”

“I think the Jockey Challenge will continue to help make a difference in the way women are viewed and treated,” Doyle continued. “I think it’s great that they are trying to horse racing to showcase women competing against men. It’s a display of respect for women, and it shows a belief that we do know what we are doing out there (on the track). It will be so refreshing for the women of Saudi Arabia to be able to come to the races and experience us competing against the men. They probably haven’t seen anything like it, and we want them to feel a sense of pride right along with us.”

Fourteen riders will compete in four races, with the winner taking home $30,000. Doyle will be up against some top riders from all over the world, including Mike Smith, Frankie Dettori, Yutaka Take, Olivier Peslier and Emma-Jayne Wilson.

“I am really excited for Sophie,’ Green said. “It and it is an opportunity that I think we all would love. We are all so proud of her, it makes me want to cry.”

“I think it is so amazing,” Murray said. “She is such a good representative for the Fair Grounds jockey colony and women riders.”

“It is super exciting,” Sutherland said. “I am so happy for her. I think it is a great opportunity. I hope she does really well. She is a wonderful person to represent the United States.”

According to the press release promoting the event, the International Jockey Challenge “reflects the values of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, which lays out a program of targets for diversification and increased sporting participation among Saudi’s young people.”

On a larger scale, Vision 2030 is a plan to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism.

Doyle, who has spent some time in both in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, departed Tuesday night with the hopes of riding Thursday at Meydan in advance of Friday’s event in Saudi Arabia. She’s looking very forward to the competition, but also to having her voice heard.
“You always want to try to support other women and try to help them, not just in your own country, but around the world,” Doyle said.

You can follow the journey and successes of the female riders at the Fair Grounds on Twitter via their personal accounts @sophiedoyle77, @jockeychantal, @EricaAmazing and @jockeygreen and the hashtag #fgbellariders.

“Hopefully maybe other female jockeys around America will follow our example and create a bella hash-tag unique to their racetrack,” Doyle said. “Horse racing is the only sport where women compete directly against men. We face an uphill battle in the States and even more so around the world. By showing the support we have for each other in the Fair Grounds’ ladies jock’s room, I hope we set a good example for others and can continue to raise awareness.”

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NOMINATIONS CLOSE SATURDAY, AUGUST 26 FOR SUPER DERBY DAY AT HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS

NOMINATIONS CLOSE SATURDAY, AUGUST 26 FOR SUPER DERBY DAY AT HARRAH’S LOUISIANA DOWNS 

Bossier City, LA – The marquee day of the 2017 Louisiana Downs Thoroughbred meet is Super Derby Day on Saturday, September 9.  Officials announced that post time for the stakes-filled card will be 12:00 pm (Central).  Nominations will close on Saturday, August 26 for the following featured events:

$60,000 Unbridled                                          3 YO & Up                             1 1/16 miles (T)

$60,000 River Cities                                       3 YO & Up F&M                    1 1/16 miles (T)

$60,000 Happy Ticket                                    2 YO Fillies                             One Mile (T)

$60,000 Sunday Silence                                 2 YO                                       One Mile (T)

$50,000 Tellike                                               3 YO & Up F&M                   5 Furlongs (T)

$50,000 Need for Speed                                 3 YO & Up                             5 Furlongs (T)

$200,000 SUPER DERBY                             3 YO                                       1 1/16 miles (T)

 

Super Derby Prelude Winner Mr. Misunderstood on Target for Super Derby

Louisiana Cup Day on August 5 included the running of the $60,000 Super Derby Prelude, a  stakes for 3-year-olds on the Franks Turf Course at the distance of a mile and one-sixteenth.  The winner was given a berth to next month’s Super Derby, which will be contested on the turf this year.  Flurry Racing Stable LLC’s Mr. Misunderstood defeated seven rivals under jockey Chris Rosier to score by 2 ½ lengths.

 

Trainer Brad Cox reports that the gelded son of Archarcharch, who in undefeated in each of his turf starts, is on target to return to Louisiana Downs for next month’s Super Derby.

 

“He’s doing really well and had a fantastic breeze on Saturday (August 19),” said Cox.

 

Cox won three of the nine stakes on Louisiana Cup Day and is finalizing his nomination list for the Super Derby card.  In addition to Mr. Misunderstood, Big Changes winner of the $50,000 John Henry and Sister Blues, who was the heavy favorite in the $50,000 Opelousas, are both likely to return to compete in the undercard turf stakes on Super Derby Day.

 

Cox, 37, is currently ranked tenth in top North American Thoroughbred trainers. He has won 182 races with purses of $5.5 million to date. Currently, the resident of Louisville, Kentucky has runners at Saratoga, Woodbine, Indiana Grand, Ellis Park and Arlington Park.

 

“Everything is going well for our barn this year,” admitted Cox. “I have a good team and we stay busy. We are always looking forward to the next race day.”

 

Aubrie Green Moves Forward as a Journeyman

Louisiana Downs jockey Aubrie Green rode her last race as an apprentice on Saturday, August 19. She closed out that chapter of her career with a victory aboard Electric Kiss for Louisiana Downs leading trainer Joey Foster.

“That filly has come a long way,” said Green. “I’ve ridden her three times and was really happy with that win.”

Green, 30, prepared to ride her first race as a journeyman on Monday, August 21. She admitted that her fellow riders did not make it easy for her.

“Everyone was trying to make her worry,” recalled Green. “Some were teasing me; we all get along pretty well.”

But challenges are nothing new for Green, who grew up in a very small town of Riley, Idaho, with virtually no exposure to racing. She is the mother of three children and has made many sacrifices to get to this point.  In 2015, she rode two winners from 52 mounts, and only 11 wins followed in 2016.  But Green is having an amazing year and already has won 64 races.

“I am not focused on tacking on five extra pounds,” she said. “To me, putting my mounts in the best position to win a race is all I strive to do.”

Her first win in the journeymen ranks came on Monday, again for Foster on Yes Babe, who drew off by over six lengths in a $22,000 maiden special weight sprint.

“I’m ready to take it on,” said Green. “I might lose a little business as some of the trainers I ride for prefer to use an apprentice. But others have said they will stick with me and even have a stakes mount in mind for me.”

When the Louisiana Downs meet wraps next month, Green will weigh her options and is considering the upcoming racing seasons at Delta Downs and Fair Grounds.

 

Louisiana Downs Trainer and Jockey Standings

Through August 22, last year’s leading trainer Joey Foster continues to hold a commanding lead over his fellow conditioners with 49 wins. H. B. Johnson is second with 22 wins to date and Ronnie Ward is in sole possession of third place with 13 wins. Donald Melancon and Sarah Delany are tied in fourth place; both have saddled 12 winners.

 

Richard Eramia took a well-deserved vacation last week after riding in both Louisiana Downs and Lone Star Park from May through July. However, he continues to lead his fellow riders with 59 wins. Gerardo Mora won five races last week and is in second place in the standings with 54 trips to the winner’s circle. Aubrie Green has piloted 49 winners and Jose Guerrero follows closely with 42 wins.

 

Patti Turner and  Jamie C. Pastor top the leaderboard in the owner standings with nine wins.   Jorge Gomez and Red Rose Racing are tied for second-place with eight victories. Beverly Burress, Dream Walkin Farms, Inc, Maury and Leslie Harrington, Phyllis Hodges, Anthony Faulk and Terrell Jarrett, Jr. each have won seven races in the 2017 Thoroughbred meet.              

            

About Harrah’s Louisiana Downs

Located near Shreveport in Bossier City, Louisiana, Louisiana Downs opened in 1974 and was purchased by Caesars Entertainment in December, 2002. With annual Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing seasons, the track is committed to presenting the highest quality racing programs paired with its 150,000 square foot entertainment complex offering casino gambling, dining and plasma screen televisions for sports and simulcast racing.

For further information, please contact:

Trent McIntosh  |  Assistant General Manager
318-752-6980
8000 East Texas Street | Bossier City, LA 71111
www.caesars.com
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