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Hawthorne Race Course

Hawthorne Racecourse (12/19/12)

Contact: Ron Uchman
(708) 780-3700


Aymara Rivero
Aymara Rivero - Photo courtesy Four Footed Fotos
Once the dominion of testosterone-laden jockeys, the burgeoning number of ladies entering the riding profession only makes sense. Since Diane Crump first broke that gender barrier back in 1969, the slow trickle of women jockeys has turned into not quite a river but a fast-moving stream.

After all, women have always seemed to have a love affair with horses. How many young girls do you know that didn't ask for a pony at least once in their lives?

Plus, with their smaller frames, they would seem to have an easier time making weight, without depleting their energy by punishing diets or worse.

We have had five female riders that have ridden regularly at the meet. Rosemary Homeister Jr. and Aymara Rivero are the only “journeymen” but we also have two promising apprentice riders in Maria Rossak and Stephanie Slinger. Tori Gandia, another apprentice, left here earlier in the meet, apparently to pursue another profession. Rosemary Homeister Jr. is on a brief respite but will be riding at Oaklawn over the winter. We'll get to Stephanie Slinger and Maria Rossak, both very interesting stories, later in the meet. But, today we'll get to know Aymara Rivero a little bit better.

Aymara Rivero, “Mari,” is one of the growing complement of female riders that have become a mainstay in Illinois racing.

A native of Troy, Illinois, located not too far from Fairmount, the spunky Rivero finished the recently concluded Fairmount meet in seventh place in the standings, with 27 victories and hitting the board at a 33 percent rate.

Rivero was introduced to horses when she was quite young. Her mother worked as a groom at Fairmount for many years and her love of horses was passed on to her daughter at an early age. Mari had her own horse at the age of eight.

Her mother got her a job as a groom when she was 15. She started ponying horses and outriding as she grew older. In March of 2011, she became a jockey.

“My first winner was a first-time starter named Grahm the Bruiser for Patti Macari,” she recalled.

When she made the decision to head north, to the Chicagoland area, it was with the hope that she would be riding semi-regularly for some of the Fairmount trainers who regularly ship their runners up here for Hawthorne’s fall meet. John Wainwright and Frank Randazzo are a couple of the trainers she mentioned.

However, it wasn’t to be.

A nasty little virus found its way to the backstretch at Hawthorne and the flow of horses from down south stopped. So did her business.

“I rode first call for Wainwright at Fairmount,” said Rivero. “That wasn’t going to happen here but I would have still gotten a lot of his business.

“That was why I came here. I thought I would get plenty of business from the trainers that knew me and that I would be able to build on whatever success I had. But, this has been almost like starting over. It is almost worse. I don’t even have my bug.”

But Rivero hasn’t given up hope of being successful on this circuit.

“I will be staying here this winter and working horses over the break. Hopefully that will translate into more business. Plus, it will help me to keep fit. I could go back home and gallop horses at Fairmount but there really isn’t that much to do there in the winter. I want to work toward something.

“I’ve been working horses here for a number of trainers. I come out almost every morning. I know if I keep working hard, things will start to break my way.”

Live racing at Hawthorne takes place four days a week and concludes Sunday, December 30. Live racing will be conducted every Thursday-Sunday. First post daily is 2:10 pm. Hawthorne Race Course is located in Stickney IL at 3501 S. Laramie Ave. For information on live racing or groups at Hawthorne Race Course, contact Hawthorne at 708-780-3700 or visit Hawthorne online at

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