Women Jockeys in Canadian Horse Racing
Hot-Walker Life on the Fast Track, the sports-crime romance novel, explores the ins-and-outs of thoroughbred racing, including the introduction of Karen Sharp, woman jockey. A sports-romance-crime novel about Life on the Fast Track during the 1960s, and the relationships of those living in Yorkville and working on the racetrack.
Looking back over the years when racing experienced a time of introspection and growth, Jockeys' rooms at virtually every racetrack were described as dark, dingy, overcrowded, lacking in recreational areas, without proper reducing facilities, no eating and resting spaces, and very little room to move about and work. The jockeys' rooms were not a priority to management but the Jockeys' Guild and its representatives set about a campaign to improve conditions both on and off the track. Jockeys still had very few rights when dealing with stewards. If a steward did not like a rider's looks, they could, and often did, tell that rider to go somewhere else to ride. There was still widespread abuse of a jockey's rights to work his trade.
The popular ‘big names’ and leading riders of the 1940s were Adams, Arcaro, Atkinson, Meade and Longden, who continued to dominate in the early 1950s but were joined by a new name; Shoemaker. After completing his sophomore year of racing with 388 victories, good for a tie in the leading rider standings, Shoemaker topped all riders in earnings in 1950 with over $ I-million.
Another fact to be reckoned with for jockeys was women entering their ranks. Although women jockeys were barred from riding at registered race meetings, in the mid-1900s, Wilhemena Smith rode as Bill Smith at north Queensland racecourses. She was nicknamed Bill Girlie Smith because she arrived on course with her riding gear on under her clothes and did not shower on course. It was only at the time of her death in 1975 that the racing world was officially told that Bill was really Wilhemena. Subsequent inquiries revealed that William Smith was actually a woman who had been born Wilhemena Smith in a Sydney hospital in 1886. In an era when women were clearly denied equality, she had become known as a successful jockey in Queensland country districts as 'Bill Smith'.
The modern era of female jockeys began as Kathy Kusner successfully sued the Maryland Racing Commission for a jockey's license in 1968 under the Civil Rights Act. In late 1968, Penny Ann Early became the first licensed female thoroughbred jockey in the US, and entered three races at Churchill Downs in November, but the male jockeys announced that they would boycott those races. On February 7, 1969, Diane Crump was the first female rider to ride in a Thoroughbred race in the United States at the Hialeah Park Race Track in Florida. She made history again, the next year, when she became the first female jockey to ride in the Kentucky Derby, finishing 15th aboard Fathom. Even though the male jockeys fought the presence of females in the irons, the barrier had been broken. Two weeks later on February 22 at Charles Town in West Virginia, Barbara Jo Rubin became the first woman to win a race and went on to win 11 of her first 22. Others soon followed suit and over the years American women jockeys have proven their ability. Julie Krone has the most winning races by an American woman.
Jockeys must be light to ride at the weights which are assigned to their mounts. There are horse carrying weight limits, that are set by racing authorities. The Kentucky Derby, for example, has a weight limit of 126 lb (57 kg) including the jockey's equipment. The weight of a jockey usually ranges from 108 to 118 lb (49 to 54 kg). Despite their light weight, they must be able to control a horse that is moving at 40 mph (64 km/h) or more, and weighs 1,200 lbs (540 kg). Though there is no height restrictions for jockeys, they are usually fairly short due to the weight limits. Jockeys typically stand around 4 ft 10 in (1.47 m) to 5 ft 6 in (1.6m).
For the most part Canada has generally followed the U.S.'s lead in the area of opportunities for female riders. Canada has far fewer tracks than the U.S. and has only two female jockeys with 1,000 wins. However, in both actual and relative numbers as well as overall success rate, Canada has far surpassed its southern neighbour in opportunities for women at the highest level; namely their respective Triple Crown series.
Starting with Joan Phipps in the Canadian 1973 Breeders' Stakes, 9 different women have competed in 27 Canadian Triple Crown races, 34 times with a combined 2 wins, 3 places, 3 shows. By comparison, since Diane Crump rode in the 1970 Kentucky Derby, only 6 different women have competed in 18 total U.S. Triple Crown events with a combined record of 1 win, 1 place, 1 shows. Moreover, while no US Triple Crown race has ever featured more than one female rider, that feat has occurred on 7 occasions in Canada. Most impressively, 3 different women - Francine Villeneuve, Chantal Sutherland and Emma-Jayne Wilson (twice over) - have each raced in all three of the Canadian Triple Crown races. Women Jockeys in Canada are supreme riders!
|Hot-Walker Life on the Fast Track|
Sports Crime Romance Novel
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