Not everyone along shed row was impressed with Jennifer Reid back in May when Assiniboia Downs opened its 2012 thoroughbred season.
One rather unkind email opinion of the 23-year-old apprentice rider from Melfort, Sask., suggested that if she could get out front early and manage to stay on the horse, she might have a chance of winning.
The soft-spoken Reid has simply let her riding speak for itself, and with the season nearing the halfway point, she roared back at her critics last weekend by visiting the winner's circle eight times (four Friday, four Saturday), and they weren't all on easy horses.
Among her wins was Saturday's $30,000 Wheat City Stakes, aboard four-year-old gelding Lake Sawyer, a 17-1 long shot trained by Jared Brown. The victory was one of three that weekend on Brown's horses.
As a result, Reid is now sitting quite comfortably in third place in the jockey standings with 27 wins in 140 starts, behind leader Paul Nolan (34 in 168), and Rohan Singh (33 in 152). Her output this year already has her seven wins up on last year.
"I saved ground because we were going a mile," she said, explaining her strategy in the Wheat City Stakes. "Then the horse at the head of the lane came out, and there was a hole, so I went in the hole to use it to my advantage. We (she and Lake Sawyer) just clicked. I had a ton of horse at the three-eighths pole, and he did everything right, helping me out a lot."
Downs' CEO and track announcer Darren Dunn was beside himself.
"Back-to-back four-win days, and two wins the night before that (July 1)," he said. "Ten wins in three days for an apprentice? An unbelievable run."
Ivan Bigg, who writes the Insider for the Downs web page (www.assiniboiadowns.com/), suggested that the Jockey Club of Canada shouldn't wait until spring to award her the Sovereign Award as the Canada's best apprentice rider. "Apprentice jockeys aren't supposed to be able to win four races two days in a row," wrote Bigg. "Like, what apprentice is going to top that?"
Reid was Brown's last choice to ride Lake Sawyer.
Singh, his usual rider, had decided to go with U R Burnin Daylite.
"It was a little bit lucky," recalled Brown. "I never actually told her agent that I was putting her on. I just entered her late and got lucky. As it has turned out she's won four races in a row for me. She doesn't make a lot of mistakes, and that is the main thing that costs a rider on the race track."
Brown says that Reid has pretty much paid her dues. "Jennifer has taken, I think, a lot from everyone she has ridden for last year and this year, and she has improved probably tenfold. It can only get better for her now because she is going to be able to pick and choose a little bit as to what she gets to ride, and that is a position she hasn't been in before."
When she loses her bug (apprentice status) at the end of this year, Reid believes she may have to struggle a little again as she will no longer have the five-pound weight allowance.
Brown, on the other hand has confidence in her. "You know, in a small colony like this, once she's proven that she can compete, she' ll be fine. She won on Lake Sawyer and she didn't get a weight advantage there.
Reid will ride in all eight races tonight, including the one-mile $50,000 R.C. Anderson Stakes. In that one she' ll be on 30-1 long shot Walfaari. On Saturday she has five trips
Post time tonight and Saturday is 7 p.m.