Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Aug. 10, 2011- PM Edition

| Churchill Downs Communications | 08/10/2011 #

In Today's Notes: Great Britain's Top Female Jockey to Ride in Arlington Million; Owners of Beverly D. Runner River Jetez Arrive at Arlington

British-born Hayley Turner, easily the most successful female jockey in European racing history, will make her Midwestern riding debut in Saturday's Grade I Arlington Million, centerpiece race of the Chicago Thoroughbred racing season.

Saturday's 28th renewal of the Million, along with Saturday's Grade I Beverly D. and Grade I Secretariat Stakes, make up Arlington's one-day International Festival of Racing.

Turner, 28, will become the fourth female jockey – and second native of Great Britain – to have a mount in the Million when she rides the Irish-bred Wigmore Hall, owned by Mark Hawtin, in the 10-furlong test over Arlington's world famous turf course. Wigmore Hall was the runner-up in last year's Secretariat Stakes.

Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone became the first in 1991 when she guided Bertram Firestone's Chenin Blanc to a fourth-place finish. Great Britain's Gay Kelleway rode Lewis North's John Rose to a 12th-place finish in 1992 aboard a horse trained by her father, the late Paul Kelleway. He had also saddled Geoffrey Kaye's Madam Gay to a third-place finish behind Dotsam Stable's John Henry and Franklin Groves' The Bart in the inaugural Arlington Million.

Last summer, Swedish-born jockey Inez Karlsson rode Robert Courtney Jr.'s Rahystrada to fourth-place finish in Arlington Million XXVIII, but although that horse returns in Saturday's edition, he will be ridden by Sheldon Russell while Karlsson continues her recovery from the birth of her first child on July 25.

Turner, who accepted her first American mount at Pimlico during Preakness week this spring, returned to Europe shortly thereafter and reached the 500-win milestone aboard a horse named Efistorm on Aug. 1 at Windsor for trainer Conor Dore.

Last month, Turner became the first female jockey in the United Kingdom to win a Group I race outright when she guided Dream Ahead to victory in the Darley July Cup at Newmarket for trainer David Simcock. In 2005, Turner tied with Saleem Golam for champion apprentice honors and rode her personal-best 100 winners in a season in 2008.

Barbara and Cedrick Amm, who own Saturday's Grade I Beverly D. runner River Jetez along with Marsh Shirtliff, briefly visited the Arlington press box Wednesday morning and shared some background on their 8-year-old South African-bred mare.

The $750,000 Beverly D. for fillies and mares is the sister race to Saturday's Arlington Million. Along with Saturday's $400,000 Secretariat Stakes for grass-favoring sophomores, the three races are the only Grade I events contested in Illinois.

"We've been very lucky and consider ourselves very fortunate because River Jetez has taken us all over the world to see her races," Mrs. Amm said of the mare who finished second by a half-length in the Group I Singapore Airlines International Cup May 22 and was beaten less than three lengths for the win in the Group I Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup at Hong Kong May 1. "This is the first year in 44 years of married life that I've ever been out of South Africa.

"River Jetez is a full sister to Pocket Power, who was South African Horse of the Year three years running," she said. "She grew up in his shadow but now she's doing her own thing.

"The reason she is as good as she is because we were very lucky to have had a good trainer named Mike Bass to bring her along to the races," she added. "He knew all about the Jet Masters (sire of River Jetez) and he knew they had to be brought along very slowly. He didn't rush her, so we make sure he gets a percentage of all her winnings.

"She's taller than her older brother, but narrower," Mrs. Amm said. "She has more leg to her than he did. The only time she gives us a little trouble is when they go to put the saddle on her. Once the saddle is on, she's all business. She gets focused."

Cedrick Amm is a former professional golfer who won the Dunlop South African Masters at Zwartkop in 1966.

"I could never beat the top three golfers of the time – Gary Player, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus," he said of his golfing career. "That was like a lightweight going up against heavyweights, so I stayed on the South African tour."

River Jetez has been conditioned by legendary South African trainer Michael de Kock since last October. She has won 12 times over 40 lifetime starts and has amassed career earnings of $2,046,290.