Kayla Stra missed victory by a head in her first race as a new
mother. The 28-year-old Australian native had an eventful trip to just
miss winning Saturday’s third race aboard 44-1 shot Wild in the Saddle,
losing to front-running 62-1 outsider J Louie, ridden by Tyler Baze.
For Stra (pronounced straw), it was her first ride since last
May 20 at Betfair Hollywood Park. During that span, she took time off to
give birth to a son on Nov. 15 fathered by trainer Gus Headley. The
boy’s name is Brys (pronounced Breece) Baldwin Headley.
“I was hoping to win,” Stra said after the narrow defeat. “If I
hadn’t been wide, I might have got there. It would have been great to
win for the chaplain,” referring to trainer Francis Meza, wife of Eddie
Meza, chaplain for the Race Track Chaplaincy of America.
Eddie is the brother of former jockey Rafael Meza. Francis and
Eddie celebrated big time four races later when A Jealous Woman, trained
by Francis, won the $75,000 Megahertz Stakes in a three-horse photo
under Brice Blanc.
For Kayla, a win Saturday would have been additionally
appropriate since her grandmother, Joan, is in Hoag Hospital in Newport
Beach battling complications from recent cancer surgery on a kidney.
Joan was 76 last Friday.
“I was hoping to win not only for the chaplain, but for my grandmother,” Stra said. “We’re saying our prayers.”
If hunch plays mean anything, the Man Upstairs should be on
Kayla’s side Monday. She rides a horse for Gus in the third race named
On Holy Ground.