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From Coast to Coast

In jock's room, Stra can change silks and diapers

Kayla Stra 615 X 400
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Balancing a full-time job and responsibilities as a parent is a hard thing to do, but it becomes even more difficult when your job is physically demanding and requires long hours. Modern conveniences have made strides towards making it easier to be both a mother and a professional with the array of choices of formula, breast pumps, and child care; however, if a mother chooses to take the more traditional route, none of those choices, except perhaps a breast pump, truly do anything to make it easier to maintain that balance.
 
 
Jockey Kayla Stra welcomed her son Brys into the world this past November and has since returned to work. In order to accommodate her role as both a mother and a rider, she has brought both her son and her son’s nanny with her to the track every day. In between rides, Kayla would breastfeed her son and assist in other child care duties such as diaper changing in the female jock’s room.
 
 
Recently, a misunderstanding between Stra and the Hollywood Park stewards exploded out of control. According to Stra, she believed that the stewards were banning her from breastfeeding her son and stated that Kim Sawyer, the only female steward, had told her agent that she needed to choose between being a mother and being a jockey. Steward Scott Chaney indicated that this was simply not the case. According to him, the issue arose when another female jockey, who had not been scheduled to ride that day, was in the jockey’s room and changed Brys’ diaper.
 
 
Chaney said that the Hollywood stewards had provided a separate room for Stra to tend to her baby’s needs and felt that the matter was settled. However, when California Horse Racing Board chairman David Israel caught wind of the situation, he was quick to rectify the situation. He told the Hollywood stewards that discrimination of any kind would not be allowed; that Kayla, her son, and her son’s nanny could all be in the jock’s room and do anything they needed to do; and that they [the stewards] needed to reach out to Stra and apologize for the incident. Even without David Israel’s ruling on the matter, Kayla Stra had the law on her side. In the state of California, work place law states that a woman can breastfeed their babies and have them at work if necessary.  
 
 
As a woman and a mother, I commend Kayla Stra for making the decision to breastfeed her baby. Aside from all the added benefits of doing so, breastfeeding is perfect for mother-baby bonding time. Times have changed. Women are no longer simply homemakers. Women have jobs and careers. Men are not forced to choose between work and family, and neither should women. Bravo for David Israel’s open-mindedness on the situation, and bravo for Kayla Stra for not backing down in the face of adversity.
 
 
Israel's positive stance on the matter is certainly once less thing to worry about. Had he favored the Hollywood stewards in this matter, public outcry would have further besmirched the industry's reputation. We can certainly ill afford another black mark against us, but whether or not this factored into Israel's stance is unknown. Regardless of the motive, it was the right call.
 
 
Kayla will be riding at Del Mar, and Craig Dado, vice president of marketing for the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has already reached out to the jockey and mother and told her that Del Mar will do whatever it has to in order to make her feel comfortable. Stra won on opening day at Del Mar last year and has stated that she is looking forward to this year’s meet. Her focus this year will be on quality not quantity, and she says that she has some very nice horses ready to go there. 

 

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Older Comments about In jock's room, Stra can change silks and diapers...

Congratulations Kayla for getting it right. You have made yoiur family a priority in the midst of also fulfilling your obligations to your profession. And, I'd like to add, you have made your name based on your job professionalism- withot having to resort to Playboy photo shoots, modelling, retring, unretiring and other wise keeping your image in front of the public. You have demonstrated that your focus is already on quality vs. quantit, and you have my complete respect for standing up for your rights, equality, morals and beliefs. Congratulations on being such a great role model, ride safe at Delmar and continue to demonstrate that this type of prejudice will not be tolerated.
There will be no separate room for Kayla at the California tracks. "No one goes to the back of the damn bus" is an actual quote from Israel's directive.
  • PomDeTerre · She- and female riders at every racetrack in the country- hav always had their separate jock's room. Would you really expect that the men and women share the same quarters while showering, dressing and whatever else they might wish to do without the opposite sex being present? And that is not considered sitting in the back of the bus; it is a rational expectation. · 364 days ago
Congratulations Kayla for getting it right. You have made yoiur family a priority in the midst of also fulfilling your obligations to your profession. And, I'd like to add, you have made your name based on your job professionalism- withot having to resort to Playboy photo shoots, modelling, retring, unretiring and other wise keeping your image in front of the public. You have demonstrated that your focus is already on quality vs. quantit, and you have my complete respect for standing up for your rights, equality, morals and beliefs. Congratulations on being such a great role model, ride safe at Delmar and continue to demonstrate that this type of prejudice will not be tolerated.
Kudos to Kayla, Israel, and Del Mar. 2013...and we're still breaking ground. Someday, I am hopeful, situations and compromises like BHP and BHP stewards were advocating will be considered obsolete and archaic, period. Go Kayla--great role model!!
Thank you, goblin. That is exactly how I feel about the matter, and it's a point well made.
Kayla is certainly entitled to her rights under the laws of the state of California. Choosing to breast feed is a decision that requires direct, physical parenting by the mother involved and is optimum for the child. (Ask any pediatrician/neonatologist.) It is the hallmark of a person who does not relegate parenting responsibilities. Kudos to Israel for his intervention.
*long
Actually, I won't post my thoughts about this personal subject here, but I can understand her need to go back to work for financial and log-term career reasons, and why she'd want the baby near due to what he currently eats.
If you get really specific with that, tv, I will write a long dissertation. Everyone? To me, it would be nearly a miracle to have found even one.
why is it that parents want EVERYONE to be surrogate baby sitters for them?
You go girl!
Another great article on this topic! I'm glad that Israel, and Stra put the stewards on notice that they are not aboe the human rights laws of california and that any future "specious" rule off will look like retaliation. I'm amazed that it was the female stew who gave her the mom or jock ultimatum.
Good for Kayla! LOL, I MUST laugh at the tap dancing around the accommodation "dosey-do." Some still haven't figured out that "separate but equal," especially the second tier down, doesn't always fill the bill! That battle was fought both in 1865 AND 1965!
That's awesome!
Good for Kayla!

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Meet Ashley Tamulonis
  
 

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, and it was her love of reading and horses that led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few short years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and get to personally meet and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.

 

Before joining Horse Racing Nation, Ashley created her own blog Wired with Ashley Paige. The idea to venture into the world of blogging came to her when she realized that she had much to say about horse racing and no one to say it to at the time. Since joining Horse Racing Nation as a contributing blogger, Ashley writes as frequently as possible as the Florida Filly. Though she mainly covers racing in South Florida, Ashley also blogs about nationwide racing, industry issues, and from time to time offers her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry as a whole. Most recently, Ashley was selected to participate in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.

 

An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband Chris and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.