Apprentice Chel-c Bailey Enjoys First Three-Win Day

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Apprentice Chel-c Bailey Enjoys First Three-Win Day

Chel-c Bailey walked into the paddock following Sunday’s ninth and final race at Oaklawn with the lower half of her face covered in dirt. But the dirty work already had paid off for the 20-something former collegiate wrestler/MMA fighter turned apprentice jockey after she swept the early daily double and added another victory in the fifth race to score her first career riding triple.

“You know what blows my mind was that I could not win a race at Delaware or in Maryland and then I come here to Oaklawn Park and it should be the other way around,” Bailey said moments after the ninth race. “Should it not?”

Bailey launched her professional riding career in 2019, recorded her first winner during the 2020 Oaklawn meet and first double Nov. 20 at Hawthorne. Bailey won Sunday’s first race aboard I Feel the Need ($12.40) trainer Mike Puhich, second race aboard favored Rattrapante ($4) for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer and the fifth race aboard Summer Shoes ($9.60) for trainer Tom Swearingen.

“I’m still in shock,” Bailey said.

The triple gave Bailey 10 victories at the 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting that began Dec. 3, pulling her within one of the top spot among apprentice riders. John Hiraldo, a finalist for an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion apprentice of 2021, has 11.

Bailey continues to take advantage of business contacts she made last summer and fall in the Midwest, specifically Chicago-area venues Arlington Park and Hawthorne, after moving her to tack there when unable to generate traction in the Mid-Atlantic.

Summer Shoes marked Bailey’s fourth winner this season at Oaklawn for trainer Tom Swearingen, who employs Bailey’s husband, David Kembrey, as an exercise rider. Bailey also has ridden two winners at the meeting for John Haran, another trainer with strong Chicago ties. One of Bailey’s two victories Nov. 20 at Hawthorne came for Haran.

“In three months of my riding at Delaware and in Maryland, I rode more races at Arlington Park in one month than three months,” Bailey said. “It’s mind blowing to me.”

I Feel the Need was Bailey’s second victory at the meeting for Puhich. She frequently gets on horses for the trainer in the morning and both are Pacific Northwest natives. Kembrey galloped horses for Puhich at the 2021 Oaklawn meeting.

Summer Shoes recorded the most lopsided victory of the meeting (12 ¾ lengths) in breaking her maiden sprinting against Arkansas-bred females. The purse was a hefty $84,000.

“She’s a special horse,” Bailey said. “I’ve been working her since Arlington and Hawthorne. You know what you’re working with. It’s horse racing, not jockey racing.”

Bailey also finished second in the eighth race, a $100,000 entry-level allowance sprint for older females, aboard Ursulina for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. It was her fourth mount Sunday.

“To even ride a horse for him is, like, incredible, let alone to win one,” Bailey said. “She went off at 21-1, so it was like she wasn’t even picked to do good. I’d given her the best numbers, so she just needed a lady’s touch.”

Bailey, a little more than three months into 2022, already has established a yearly career-best for purse earnings ($290,341), according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. The triple propelled Bailey past last year’s total ($259,317) and came one day after she finished fourth aboard the Swearingen-trained Richness in the $150,000 Downthedustyroad Breeders’ Stakes for Arkansas-bred female sprinters. It was Bailey’s first career stakes mount. Bailey has two victories at the meet aboard Richness, including a $100,000 allowance score Jan. 30 that represents the most lucrative of her career to date.

“It’s been a great meet,” Bailey said.

Bailey has 21 career victories, including 13 at Oaklawn. Bailey’s first three career winners were at the 2020 Oaklawn meeting.

Citing COVID-19 concerns, protecting her 10-pound apprentice weight allowance and possibly resurrecting her MMA career, Bailey didn’t ride at the 2021 Oaklawn meeting and worked primarily as an exercise rider for Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox. She resumed riding May 31 at Pimlico.

In addition to Oaklawn, Bailey has seven career victories at Hawthorne (all during its 2021 fall meeting) and one at the 2020 Keeneland fall meeting.

Bailey, who now rides with a 7-pound weight allowance, is represented at Oaklawn by agent “Big Steve” Krajcir of Hot Springs.

Kavod to Shorten Up

The consistent Kavod will target shorter races following his fourth-place finish in the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 26, trainer Chris Hartman said.

After winning the inaugural $150,000 Advent Stakes at 6 furlongs Dec. 3, Kavod stretched out for Oaklawn’s first three Kentucky Derby points races and finished fourth in the $250,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 1, fourth in the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Jan. 29 and fourth in the Rebel. The Smarty Jones was 1 mile, the Southwest 1 1/16 miles. Oaklawn’s next open stakes race for 3-year-old sprinters is the $150,000 Bachelor April 30.

“We’re in a holding pattern with him,” Hartman said. “We may take him to Keeneland. We don’t know yet. He’s more of a Pat Day Mile-type horse.”

Hartman said next-race plans also are pending for Necker Island, who finished ninth in the 2020 Kentucky Derby and was a three-quarter length winner of a stakes-level 1-mile allowance Feb. 21.

Hartman said “it’s possible” Necker Island could run again at Oaklawn before the meeting ends May 8.

Hartman was Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2015 and is tied for fifth in this season’s standings with 14 victories from just 56 starts. He’s winning at a healthy 25-percent clip.

“We’re having a good meet,” Hartman said.

Finish Lines

Millionaire multiple Grade 1 winner Shedaresthedevil is the 5-2 program favorite for Saturday’s $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles. Also entered are Ce Ce, the country’s champion female sprinter of 2021, and multiple graded stakes winner Pauline’s Pearl. Probable post time for the Azeri, the ninth of 10 races, is 5:10 p.m. (Central). Shedaresthedevil won last year’s Azeri. … Secret Oath worked a half-mile in :48.40 Tuesday morning, her first breeze since winning the $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 26. Secret Oath is being considered for the $600,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles and the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at 1 1/8 miles, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said. Both races are April 2. … Bubble Rock is “possible” for the Fantasy after winning the $125,000 Cincinnati Trophy Stakes at 1 mile last Saturday at Turfway Park, trainer Brad Cox said Tuesday afternoon. Bubble Rock is a homebred for John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs, Oaklawn’s leading owner this year.