Blonde Power: Jockey, Trainer, Anchor Mark Milestones at Betfair Hollywood Park

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Karen Headley, Cecily Evans & Kristine Leahy Karen Headley, Cecily Evans & Kristine Leahy

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.

Cecily Evans gets a chilly congratulations for her fellow jockeys on her first win

Cecily Evans gets a chilly congratulations from her fellow jockeys on her first win

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.’’

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  • Richard C

    All that was missing — Blondie ripping into a lost gem, “Kung Fu Girls”, from the outstanding debut album!

  • Andrew A.

    Outstanding night and good for the girls last night.

  • dr. ichabod

    i’d do all 3

  • Johnny

    Nobody mentioned that the horse of Karen’s was claimed and she become very upset at the new trainer. Even used some ugly language. I guess daddy has not explained the claiming game to his daughter.

    • Andrew A.

      Gee, who can Johnny be?

      I don’t think Karen would have entered Keep Movin in the race if she was worried about losing the gelding via claim. I don’t think she was upset at the Trainer for claiming the gelding at all but maybe the Trainer doing the claiming should have been happy with the claim and kept his mouth shut.

      And why in the world would “Johnny” want to make these comments in an article celebrating the accomplishments of three fine women on Friday night? Maybe cuz Johnny doesn’t have any class? Or maybe cuz Johnny can’t spell.

      Tangle with Karen at your own peril “Johnny”.

      • Ann M. Adam

        And I for one will be watching the handling of this horse, “Johnny”! And I’m not afraid to publish as I see it!

    • Larry Ensor

      “Karen’s was claimed and she become very upset” Perfectly understandable a lot of us don’t look at our horses or horses in general as “commodities”.
      IMO your comment comes off as self serving and brings nothing to the table.

    • Ann M. Adam

      “Claiming game” was known. Doesn’t mean one automatically approves the new owner’s rep. of horsemanship.

  • MA

    If it were three blonde MEN, would you have used the same title?

    • RayPaulick

      I’ll have to ask Natalie Voss, who wrote the headline. Truthfully, if it were three blonde men it’s exremely doubtful there would have been a press release issued on three individuals getting “firsts.”

    • NataliePR

      I’ll have to agree with Ray here; unfortunate as it is, there probably wouldn’t have been a press release to this effect if they had been men. I’d started out with just ‘Girl Power’ but that’s something that is frankly over-used and actually further emphasizes the differences in the way we react to this type of story due to gender.

    • Ann M. Adam

      LOL !!! AHHhhhhh com’ ON women! This is a light & nice nod to the broken records. The 60s are over. Time for women to act as equals in order to be taken seriously rather than treated as “special.”

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