Jockey Sophie Doyle came into the 2018 meet at Arlington International Racecourse with a plan. With the racing season wrapping up, everything went according to said plan for the 31-year-old rider.
Doyle was a new face in the jockey's room at the beginning of the meet but had spent the spring at Hawthorne Race Course riding for Arlington-based trainers to set herself up for what ended up being a successful summer.
“My goal was to come up here and be top three,” Doyle said. “I said to myself that if I didn't have fifty wins then I would be disappointed. I wanted to set the bar high for myself to be at the top of this meet and luckily we've managed to achieve it. We've worked hard every day and we actually left the Fair Grounds (Race Course & Slots) early and went to Hawthorne for the spring meet which was just to get the contacts rolling up here because I was a new face – I wanted people to get to know me and show that I am a hard worker. The Hawthorne meet went very well and it carried on into Arlington.”
Doyle closed out the meet with a total of 52 wins having finished in the money at a 46% clip. She secured third in the leading rider standings trailing only Jose Valdivia, Jr. (111) and Mitchell Murrill (81). Prior to joining the Arlington colony, she would spend her summers in Kentucky where she found herself almost always on the road between Churchill Downs, Indiana Grand Race Course, and Ellis Park among other racetracks.
“I spoke to (jockey agent) Penny Fitch-Heyes before I came up here and have been in touch with her quite a few times on and off for the past three years,” Doyle said. “I always thought about coming here and seeing how things materialize in Kentucky, and then after my second season at Fair Grounds, I thought about it. It's tough being in Kentucky and doing all the travelling around to all the different tracks and being at the Fair Grounds you just get used to being so close by.”
Doyle plans on making a trip back home to England before returning to action at Hawthorne in October. In the winter, she will ride full time at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, Louisiana.
“Between now and (Fair Grounds) I'm going back to England to renew my visa,” Doyle said. “If I have two or three weeks left I'll go to Hawthorne and possibly ride a few at Keeneland and then I plan on being down at the Fair Grounds the first week of November. It's a tough spot to be in and you have to be there early to build up the clientele because they enter a week out so you almost need to spend two to three weeks to get the ball rolling a bit.”
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