Cecily Evans settles in Shakopee

By Katie Merritt

Jockey Cecily Evans is a 28-year-old native of Baltimore, Maryland. She grew up riding, but stumbled upon racehorses almost by accident. “I was riding at a barn that had steeplechasers and I started galloping them as a summer job. I thought it was like going on glorified trail rides, galloping through fields, jumping things, it was so much fun!” Cecily explained, laughing. “Then I met someone that trained thoroughbreds at the track. She could tell I loved it and was the right size, so she suggested I come down to Pimlico and learn the ways of the track.” And as they say, the rest is history.

Cecily then began galloping for Dickie Small, a trainer well-known for giving a good start to female riders, like Forest Boyce and Rosie Napravnik. “Dickie taught me so much. I learned a lot from him. When I was first starting, he set up an equicizer for me in front of a TV and had me watch race replays to learn what to do and what not to do.” Evans still watches replays today when preparing for a race. “I read the form and I watch both my horses’ replays, and replays of the other horses in the race. I want to learn as much as I can about my horse and the competition so I can ride the smartest race I can,” she explained, while also recognizing the importance and necessity of a rider’s intuition and relationship with the horse once the gates open.

While completing her college degree, Evans rode a handful of amateur races between 2009 and 2012 before starting her professional riding career in 2013. She has ridden primarily on the Mid-Atlantic circuit, but has experienced success all over the country – from Tampa Bay Downs to Monmouth Park to Santa Anita. From 808 career mounts, she has a respectable 95 wins, 88 seconds and 90 thirds. Last winter, Evans went to Turf Paradise for the first time where she won several races, many for trainers who run at Canterbury Park. “When I was in Arizona, a few of the trainers I was riding for suggested that I give Canterbury a try. I was planning on going back to Delaware Park this summer, but decided that it made sense to stay on the same circuit and build up my business. I really like Canterbury! Everyone is so friendly here!”

When Cecily isn’t riding, she likes to stay active hiking, exploring new places, and even takes aerial silk classes. In addition, in her free time she occasionally works as a Disney Princess. “In Maryland, one of my best friends started a company called the Princess Company and she does birthday parties and charity events for kids. So I help her out sometimes by ‘princessing’; being a princess for kids. It’s fun, especially when it’s for a good cause!” Evans explained. “It’s fun to be Elsa because she is a favorite with the kids, but I love the Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty costumes!”

Here in Shakopee, Evans keeps busy every morning going to the track and working horses before returning for the races in the afternoons. Her hard-work is paying off – she won her first race at Canterbury on June 3 for last year’s leading trainer Mac Robertson.

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