Monday, May 14 was a very good day for trainer Becky LeBlanc. Just two months after getting her trainer's license, she shipped in two horses to Harrah's Louisiana Downs and won her first career race. On, Tuesday, May 15, she added a second win!
Born and raised in Sioux City, Neb., LeBlanc fell in love with horses at an early age and spent her summers working and grooming at various farms. She relished the demanding work; everything from mucking stalls to cleaning tack and credited Nebraska horseman Harlan Norman for teaching her the ropes.
“He taught me everything I know,” said LeBlanc.
So after graduating from high school, LeBlanc began her pursuit of a career in the racing industry. She has been an assistant trainer since 1990, working for a number of horsemen. Owner Thomas Holyfield got to know LeBlanc when she was serving as an assistant to trainer Keith Bourgeois and encouraged her to go out on her own.
On March 10, she took out her trainer's license and set up a 12-horse stable at Evangeline Downs. Fittingly, her first win came for Holyfield in Monday's third race at Louisiana Downs when Opportunity Cost won the mile and seventy-yard claiming event under jockey Thomas Pompell.
Track announcer John McGary recognized her achievement and tweeted that Opportunity Cost, a son of Tapit and $400,000 Keeneland sale purchase, was making his first start since Oct. 17.
LeBlanc admits the handsome gray gelding didn't always keep his focus, but ran a very good race Monday, sustaining his lead against the race favorite.
“He's a big feeler in the barn,” LeBlanc said. “He likes to bite and play, but that's what makes him happy!”
One day after winning her first career race, LeBlanc returned to the Bossier City racetrack and scored with another horse owned and bred by Holyfield. She'screative, a filly by Creative Cause, captured Tuesday's fourth race, a $17,500 optional allowance claimer. Pompell was in the saddle as she drew off to a 2 ¼ length victory.
“She's my baby girl,” admitted LeBlanc. “After breaking her maiden in her first start, she won the D.S. Shine Young Futurity (at Evangeline Downs). She ran her little heart out on Tuesday.”
LeBlanc, 48, married her husband, retired jockey Kirk LeBlanc in 2011. The former top rider on the Louisiana circuit is now a jockey agent at the Opelousas, La., racetrack and handles the business for riders Pompell and Alfredo Contreras.
After cooling out her filly Tuesday afternoon, LeBlanc loaded both horses for the four-hour trip back to Evangeline. No big celebrations were planned as she recognizes that winning two races back-to-back is not the norm for a new trainer.
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