Bright-eyed at 4' 9”, she tacks a feathery 105 pounds. And, at 21 years of age, apprentice Laura Werner, a native of Stratford-upon-Avon, England, registered her first-ever Santa Anita win on Sunday aboard 26-1 longshot Night's Watch in Sunday's eighth race, a starter allowance, optional claimer for 3-year-olds and up. Head and head with El Super and Martin Pedroza down the backside, Night's Watch, a 3-year-old gelding trained by Leonard Powell, surged to the front midway around the far turn and coasted to a 2 ½ length victory while getting a mile in 1:37.26.
“I've been working a couple horses for Leonard, but this was the first time I've been on this horse,” said Werner, who won a quarter horse race last night at Los Alamitos and had won four Thoroughbred races in Australia prior to today's triumph. “I came to Southern California in December and spent a few months at San Luis Rey (Downs, Training Center), to familiarize myself with how things are done here.
“I've been here at Santa Anita three months now and I've been working horses every morning here and at Los Alamitos. This is absolutely awesome! Evin (Roman, the meet's leading apprentice, who ended up winning four races on the day) has been doing so well, so maybe now I can knock him off his perch a bit.”
With a physique similar to the likes of the legendary Bill Shoemaker, Werner looked like a seasoned veteran coming down the lane as she hand-rode her mount to victory. Represented by former racing broadcaster Carolyn Conley, Werner said that in addition to working horses at Santa Anita, she also travels to Los Alamitos one morning a week to get on horses for trainers Art Sherman and Marty Jones.
When asked if any over her family members were employed at the racetrack “back home,” she blurted, “No, they all think I'm mad! But, they're able to watch online at home and I think they're beginning to realize I can do this.”
Here's hoping that Werner, who happens to share the same hometown as one William Shakespeare, can begin writing a career script that will lead her to a limitless future in American Racing.
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