Photo: Hollywood Park
Eliska (pronounced el-ish-ka) Kubinova, a riding sensation this year
at Emerald Downs and Portland Meadows, makes her Betfair Hollywood Park
debut Sunday. And what a way to begin. She’ll be in the Zenyatta
colors aboard Valeria in the ninth race for owners Jerry and Ann Moss
and trainer John Shirreffs.
Kubinova, a 23-year-old from Jesenik in the Czech Republic, spent
three years in a Prague riding school before her wanderlust took over.
She did some traveling in Europe and then accepted an opportunity to be
an exchange student at Syracuse University. After six months in New
York, she wanted to see more of the United States and left for Seattle.
Her love of horses brought her to Emerald Downs, where she started
getting on horses in the morning. Within a year she got her first mount
and three rides later picked up her first victory September 10, 2011.
She went on to Portland Meadows, where she quickly caught on and
posted 66 winners. It was at Emerald Downs earlier this year where she
really took off.
She wound up winning 76 races, an Emerald record for an apprentice,
from 416 mounts. She also had 71 seconds and 61 thirds, meaning her
mounts were in the money an even 50 per cent of the time.
The travel bug struck her again and she was especially curious to
see California, Los Angeles in particular. Shy by nature, Kubinova began
wandering around the backstretch asking trainers to work some horses.
Her agent, George Ortuzar, picks up the story.
“She was working horses and was a complete unknown,” said Ortuzar, who
doubles as promotions director at Betfair Hollywood Park. “Several
riders were talking and asking ‘who is that cute jockey?’ I went up and
introduced myself and asked if she had an agent. I agreed to represent
her and now she’s been working horses for some top barns such as Julio
Canani, John Shirreff and Paula Capestro.
Now comes the acid test. Valeria is the 3-1 favorite on the morning line and will break from post eight.