Katelin Willey could not suppress the grin that was spreading across her face Friday night so she did the next best thing. She covered her mouth with a hand for an instant, hoping the joy might subside, at least momentarily.
It did not.
That’s the way it is for someone like Katelin, who has wanted and waited for this moment nearly six months, the first win of her career as a jockey.
She took a front-running path to victory aboard a 5-year-old named Craving Carats, trained by Carl O’Callaghan in the second race.
Willey,22, was absolutely bubbling, and everyone who knows her was happy for her, too. At 4-11 and 100 pounds and with a persistent glow of happiness about her, who could not wish the best for this apprentice rider, who began her career in February at Turf Paradise in Phoenix.
Her fellow riders were waiting for her with buckets of ice, water and just about anything else they could come up with to give her the traditional dousing that accompanies a rider’s first win. Oh, yeah, and the baby powder was added once a sufficient dousing had occurred, assuring that the power would stick like like glue.
“I figured there’d be water,’’ she said, her pants and silks soaked to the skin. “But I didn’t figure on mayonnaise and soup. This smells absolutely gross.’’
One by one her colleagues congratulated her, shaking her hand, yelling to her and giving her the thumbs up. Israel Hernandez, headed out for the third race, wanted to give her a hug but, in view of her state at the time, settled for a handshake. “But I’m so sexy,’’ Willey responded.
Willey had four mounts in Phoenix before heading to Shakopee and came up with maiden win on the 21st mount of her young career, riding Craving Carats to his second win of the season.
“I figured he should go out front like that, especially with the five pounds we got (Willey’s apprentice allowance),’’ said the winning trainer. “She’s a good kid. I’m glad to see her win it.’’
Willey left her home in Washington with recommendation from a friend to trainer Valorie Lund, for whom she caught on working horses. It was a steady path to her career goal.
Meanwhile, was happy to break her maiden in Shakopee as opposed to Phoenix.
“They said they were going to shave my eyebrows off if I had won down there,’’ she said.
By the way, Craving Carats paid $48.60 to win.
It did not take Hall of Fame jockey Scott Stevens long to make his presence felt after arriving this week, although it came at Willey’s expense in the fourth race.
Willey was attempt to win two straight, riding Gracie Jean in the fourth, but got outdueled by Stevens and Right To Glory in the stretch drive. Stevens, a tremendous finisher, got his horse to outbattle Gracie Jean and win by a head.
The finals of today’s Indian Relay Races will accompany the track’s richest race of the season, the $200,000 Mystic Lake Derby, which has attracted a solid field of seven.