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Breeders Cup 2015

Cooksey Ready for Jockey Challenge

Patti Cooksey, the first female jockey to win 2,000 races, the first female jockey to ride in the Preakness (in 1984) and at one time the leading female jockey of all time, will return to riding briefly for the second straight year to accept a mount in Friday’s Jockey Challenge at Arlington – one day prior to the 29th running of the Grade I Arlington Million.


The Jockey Challenge race, now in its second year, will be part of Friday’s third “Dining with the Dynasty” program during Arlington Million week, and will feature five legendary retired riders against the top five jockeys in Arlington’s current standings.


Cooksey, who retired with 2,137 career wins, has been director of public relations for the Kentucky Racing Commission since September of 2005.  She most recently rode competitively last spring in an exhibition race at Pimlico during Preakness week and also rode in Arlington’s Jockey Challenge race last summer.


“My horse kept up for a little ways,” Cooksey recalled of her mount last summer at Arlington.  “He was running underneath me.  He just wasn’t running fast enough.”


While in Baltimore last spring for Preakness week, Cooksey met Great Britain’s top female rider Hayley Turner, who will be coming to Chicago to ride Mark Hawtin’s Irish-bred Wigmore Hall in Saturday’s Arlington Million.


“These girls these days are really making a mark for themselves,” Cooksey said.  “She’s pretty, she’s smart, she’s a good rider and she has a nice personality.”


Cooksey, who also became only the second woman to rider in a Kentucky Derby in 1984, still holds down the top spot as Churchill Downs’ all time leading female rider with 213 career victories at the Twin Spires oval.





Thoroughbred racing fans throughout the world who are in Chicago for Saturday’s International Festival of Racing are reminded that the Arlington Park will host an internationally flavored “Breakfast at Arlington” program Friday morning from 7:30-9:30, featuring interviews with top racing celebrities while also allowing fans to watch morning training exercises.




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