In a sport dominated by men, Hawthorne Racecourse in Chicago gets a gold star for exercising equality and diversity. The jockey colony at Hawthorne has 30 regular riders, and six of them are women (Heidi Rose, Samantha Colvin, Stephanie Slinger, Rosemary B. Homeister, Jr., Taylor Rice and Aymara Rivero). Five of the six females are bugs; Lady Bugs, that is.
In horse racing, an apprentice jockey is called a “bug” or a “bug boy.” This nickname comes from the asterisk that is placed next to the apprentice’s name in the race program. When you look at the program you can identify a bug rider because they are given a “footnote” next to their weight in the program. This footnote designates the amount of extra weight the jockey is carrying in order to be able to ride that particular horse. (During the Breeders’ Cup, you may have heard Laffit Pincay refer to the “plus 5” rider, meaning Santa Anita’s Bug Boy.)
An apprentice is allowed a 10-pound weight allowance until they get their fifth win, after that the allowance is dropped to seven pounds for the next year, or until they reach 35 wins, whichever comes first.
These Lady Bugs at Hawthorne know how to steal the show! On October 20, an all-women trifecta came in with Heidi Rose, Samantha Colvin and Rosemary B. Homeister, Jr. (who is currently ninth in the jockey standings and the only veteran female rider). Although not the first in the history of horse racing, it was the first in Hawthorne’s history.
On November 17, history was made again, only this time by the Lady Bugs at Hawthorne. Heidi Rose, Taylor Rice and Samantha Colvin all hit the money in the 9th race.
Hawthorne may be groundbreaking for female riders, but it’s been a long road to get there. A road paved by Julie Krone, Rosie Napravnik, Donna Brothers, to name a few. Even though incredible strikes have been made, many trainers are still reluctant to give a female rider a chance on a horse.
Taking a look at Friday’s race card, the Lady Bugs get a mount in every race but the 8th.
Race #1 should be a fun call. Track Announcer Peter Galassi refuses to say the word “Hell” so the #6 horse in this race is always called “Givem Heck Harriet.” Unfortunately for Mr. Galassi, he’s probably going to be calling this horse’s name a lot in this race. Lady Bug Taylor Rice gets the mount, but will have a hard time getting past the early morning line favorite, the Scherbenske horse, La Enfermera Roja with Timmy Thornton and his blue boots in the irons. The Haran barn brings in the #1 Sarabreeze with one of the top jocks, Israel Ocampo, aboard. As you know, if there’s an Israel in the race, he’s on my ticket. Fortunately for me, Ocampo is damn good. Sorry Galassi … darn good! I like the little filly Deeveeare too. I keep hearing her name, but she never makes it to the Winner’s Circle. She’s at an early 4/1 here.
In Race #2, Heidi Rose is on 20/1 Franklin County, the longest shot in the race. But what she did with Fifth of April in the slop on Sunday… dangerous. Alex Canchari gets his first mount of the day on the favorite #1 Peso. He likes the rail and should get in the money on this one. One of my favorite runners is #5 Laythatpistoldown, who did well last time out. Seth Martinez and Kirby team up on He’s Dann Good (no problem for Galassi here) at an early 9/2. Of course, this is a turf race … which could result in only a few horses remaining if it moves to the main track.
Race 3 troubles me … Clay Brinson is one of my favorite trainers. He has #3 Bethany Belle in this one and went with Canterbury’s Bug Israel Hernandez (who’s the lone bug BOY at Hawthorne) instead of Canchari who has ridden her in the past. Hinsley went with #2 jockey Raf Hernandez on Thecushmaker, another Canchari drop. Two Lady Bugs are in this race, Colvin and Slinger, with Colvin having the best chance on The Best Option for Mike Reavis. The favorite of course is the connections of Midwest Thoroughbreds/Brueggemann and Ocampo on the #5 Berry Knoll. For this one, I’ll go down the middle: 5, 3, 4.
Race 4 has four bugs with mounts. Lady Bug Samantha Colvin again has the favorite here with Sea of Change, but I’m going to stay to the bottom with two Yanez trained horses Hello Chas (Ocampo) and Gimme a Double (Canchari) and the Berndt horse E Z Entry with another Lady Bug in the irons.
Race 5: All Illinois-bred geldings at six furlongs and I’ll take the tough guys Grand Stag (Ocampo) and Gita’s Mahal (Hernandez) both of which sport blinkers in this race. I filled the Tri with #4 French Colonel at 8/1 but Lady Bug Taylor Rice has a shot on the Kirby horse Perfect Breeze on the rail.
Race 6: I’m skipping the analysis on this one. Take the Super right down the middle 2, 4, 6, 7.
Race 7 and 8: Well the juggernaut gets on the card for both Race 7 and 8: Midwest Thoroughbreds/Brueggemann have Mr. Num Num in the 7th and Princess Freebie in the 8th (currently at even money). So why drag out the analysis: Race 7: Mr. Num Num, Lethal, Fun On the Bayou and would like to put Lassell in there too. For Race 8: Princess Freebie, Rattlin Gypsy and Bent Missile.
Race 9: Colvin and Israel Hernandez both get on 20/1s in this one and I’ll shy away. Have to go with seasoned horses – Miles and Miles (7-year old gelding) and Geocache (8-year old gelding). Kentucky horses Name Dropper and Blazing Finish should be in the Super as well. Canchari gets on Gaelic Breeze, a horse that has been running well at Hawthorne. Let’s hope this breeze takes him straight to the Winner’s Circle, a place that hasn’t been all that familiar to him at Hawthorne as it was in Canterbury this past summer.