Blonde Power: Jockey, Trainer, Anchor Mark Milestones at Betfair Hollywood Park
There were female firsts in both the second and third races Friday night at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Jockey Cecily Evans, a 10-pound apprentice jockey, won her first race as a professional in the second, a $10,000 claiming event in which Kristine Leahy, a sports anchor and reporter for KCBS/KCAL Television, became the first woman to serve as track announcer at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Some 30 minutes later, trainer Karen Headley, daughter of Bruce Headley, earned the first victory of her career when 3-1 shot Keep Movin’ defeated eight other $20,000 maiden claimers in the third.
Leahy, who previously worked as a sports anchor and reporter in Boston, received some pre-race instructions from longtime BHP track announcer Vic Stauffer before taking the microphone. She also called the fourth race on the final Friday night program in track history.
Evans was 0-for-18 at the Spring/Summer meet before guiding Wrinkle Room, a 4-1 shot in the 6 ½-furlong Cushion Track affair for older fillies and mares, to a neck victory over 3-5 favorite Rossi Reserve.
Cutting back in distance after trailing against $12,500 claimers June 7, Wrinkle Room, a 4-year-old daughter of English Channel trained by Matt Chew for owner Matthew Nicolas, pressed the pace while inside of the eventual runner-up and prevailed in 1:18.96.
A native of Milwaukee, Evans, 27, had experienced the thrill of victory once before, but that 2010 win came in a race restricted to amateur jockeys.
“I came out here from Maryland last year during Del Mar and I was just going to gallop horses for the summer and then go and try to ride back there,’’ said Evans. “I loved it so much out here I stayed. I’ve done nothing but learn here.
“I never even expected to start riding here and I’m so glad I did. At the quarter pole, I was just waiting for someone to come up to me. I really didn’t have to ask her that much.
“I kept thinking, ‘Are they coming, are they coming?’ I expected to have to get into her a lot harder, but she just kept going nicely for me. This was just so great. I’m so happy to get a win here.’’
Keep Movin’, who finished eighth of 14 in his debut at 6 ½ furlongs May 25 when trained by Bruce Headley, was only the second horse Headley had started under her name. The 5-year-old Cyclotron gelding was claimed out of the Friday night victory by trainer Peter Miller.
“This is what I’ve wanted to do since I was in the second grade,’’ said Karen Headley, who has worked for her father for a “long time.’’ “I just figured why not now. I’ve got a few babies coming up, nothing spectacular.’’