Four female jockeys in quarter horse racing’s richest race
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ In the 38-year history of the world’s richest quarter horse race, no female jockey has ever made it to the winner’s circle. The window of opportunity never has been bigger than in this year’s race.
Four of the 10 horses running in Monday’s All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs will be ridden by females. The fact that all four women will be aboard fillies only further enhances the woman’s touch that permeates this year’s 440-yard race with a total purse of nearly $1.6 million.
The foursome is headed by Tami Purcell, who has ridden more than 1,500 winners and last year ranked third nationally among all quarter horse riders with 13 stakes victories.
Purcell, 38, rode once before in the futurity, finishing ninth with Winners Dash in 1995. This time, Purcell has one of the prerace favorites in the California filly Corona Cash.
Corona Cash has won five straight races, with two futurity victories at Los Alamitos. The filly’s trainer is, appropriately, a woman. Donna McArthur, whose husband James is the trainer of Corona Cash’s stablemate and All American entry This Snow Is Royal, trains Corona Cash.
The other three female jockeys with rides Monday are Nancy Summers, who will be aboard Honor Ease; Cammie Papineau with Royal N Perfect, and Tanya Laib on Runaway Fortune.
Purcell, whose mounts earned nearly $1.3 million in 1996, likes her chances of making All American Futurity history.
``If she gets her track, she’s the best horse,″ Purcell said of Corona Cash, who prefers to run over a soft surface. ``But even if the track comes up hard again, I expect her to run big.″
Several trainers, among them McArthur, complained that the racing surface was too hard during the time trials two weeks ago from which the 10 fastest horses qualified for the futurity.
Summers, 35, also has previous All American experience.
She finished third in the 1993 race aboard Treacherously, the highest finish by any of the four women who have previously ridden in the race. Barbara Waters was the first woman to ride in the race, finishing fourth on Jet OJ in 1986. In 1989, Ellen Cockey finished seventh on Contessa Cash.
Papineau and Laib are race rookies, who at the start of the summer could only fantasize about riding in it.
Laib, 26, has spent most of her career riding the small-track circuit in Arizona. She moved to Ruidoso at the start of the summer, was offered a job by Runaway Fortune’s trainer Carl Guillory Jr. in July and rode the filly to the fifth-fastest qualifying time in the trials.
``I was honored to be in the jocks room and riding in the trials,″ Laib said.
Papineau, 30, also is a small-town rider on the verge of making it big in quarter horse racing with the unbeaten Royal N Perfect.
A native of Lexington, Ore. _ population 285 _ Papineau is part of one of the more improbable stories in this year’s race.
Royal N Perfect’s owner, Mike Ivie, is an 18-year-old construction worker who graduated from high school in May. He purchased the filly for $2,300 last September, then got the horse into last month’s trials by paying a $50,000 supplemental fee.
The filly has earned just over $95,300 while winning eight straight races, seven of them in Idaho.
Papineau also is full of confidence in handicapping her chances.
``I’ve never been on a horse like her,″ Papineau said. ``She just doesn’t feel like she’s hitting the ground when she’s running.″