Arlington Park Barn Notes (8/13/10)
Contact: Graham Ross
In today's notes:
UNSINKABLE PATTI COOKSEY BROKE NEW GROUND FOR FEMALE JOCKEYS
She was the first female jockey to win 2,000 races, the first female jockey to ride in the Preakness, and, at one time, Patti Cooksey was the leading female jockey of all time.
Eventually, she retired with 2,137 career victories and has been director of public relations for the Kentucky Racing Commission since September of 2005.
But now, Cooksey, who could light up a race track’s tote board with her athletic ability as well as a corporate board room with her smile, will be coming to Arlington Park to share her winning personality with her fans next Friday, one day before the Arlington Million Aug. 21.
However, after Cooksey shares stories, reminisces about her racing experiences and autographs racing memorabilia during a special “Dining with the Dynasty” fundraiser at Arlington’s brand new Longshots Sports Bar, she will return to the saddle one more time later that afternoon in a special race featuring five retired jockeys against five of Arlington’s leading jockeys in the current standings.
Arlington’s “Young Guns” versus “Racing’s Cagey Veterans” will be the theme of next Friday’s special race which will offer regular win, place, show, exacta, trifecta and superfecta wagering as well as a head-to-head team wager.
The “Cagey Veterans” team – in addition to Cooksey representing the fairer sex – will be comprised of Arlington’s all-time leading rider and Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires, Arlington’s two-time jockey champion Mark Guidry, Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, and Triple Crown-winning jockey Jean Cruguet, who swept the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes in 1977 aboard Seattle Slew.
Swedish-born jockey Inez Karlsson, who began her athletic career as a boxer and finished fourth in Arlington’s final 2009 standings, will be the female member of the “Young Guns” team. She will be joined by Arlington’s defending jockey champion Junior Alvarado, Michael Baze, James Graham and Jesus Castanon.
“Cagey Veteran” Cooksey, born in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1958, began her career with a win aboard an optimistically named horse called Turf Advisor at nearby Waterford Park (now Mountaineer) in 1979. Her trailblazing run ended in 2004 after she finished third astride the less optimistically named Degenerate Gambler at Churchill Downs in June of that year, but Cooksey had conquered brave new worlds outside of sports in the interim.
In September of 2001, while the world was watching reruns of the World Trade Center collapse in horror, Cooksey was undergoing emergency surgery for breast cancer that thankfully proved successful.
Cooksey recovered to return to riding in June of 2002, but less than a year later was the victim of a horrific spill at Keeneland in April of 2003 in which she broke both legs.
Those injuries kept her on the sidelines until March of 2004, but difficulty in being named aboard competitive mounts after that second lengthy absence eventually caused Cooksey to regretfully announce her retirement from the saddle.
Cooksey, who became the second woman to ride in a Kentucky Derby in 1984, still holds down the top spot as Churchill’s all-time leading rider with 213 career victories at the Twin Spires oval. She has returned to the saddle once as part of a promotion at Preakness time last May in Baltimore to finish fifth in Pimlico’s special “Lady Legends Day” race.
“My horse broke a little slow and was running along somewhere in the middle of the pack,” Cooksey said earlier this week of the Pimlico race. “The horse started looking for oxygen about the sixteenth pole, and I remember thinking, ‘Look, I haven’t ridden since 2004, so I’m not exactly fit enough to carry you the rest of the way.’ We ended up fifth in a field of eight.”
MORE ABOUT ‘DINING WITH THE DYNASTY’ AUG. 20
“Dining with the Dynasty” is a charity event scheduled for Aug. 20 that will bring legendary jockeys from all over the country to raise funds for The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) and the Racetrack Chaplaincy of America (RTCA).
Tickets for the event to be held at Arlington’s brand new Longshots Sports Bar are now on sale at Arlingtonpark.com and at the Arlington Park box office for $99. Tickets include admission to the track plus food and beverage, a private autograph session and a question-and-answer session with the legends.
PARTY OF EIGHT WINS SEVENTH STRAIGHT THURSDAY
Arbywood Stable’s Party of Eight, trained by David Hinsley and ridden by Inez Karlsson, won his seventh straight race Thursday at Arlington, all accomplished in 2010, after failing to reach the winner’s circle in 2009.
Party of Eight is one of four horses who are three-for-three at Arlington this season but also won three races last winter in Tampa.
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