In Wednesday's fifth race at Assiniboia Downs, Jennifer Reid made it clearly known in addition to being an exceptionally good jockey, she can also pick a winner.
Prior to Wednesday, the runner-up in last season's jockey standings and Paul Nolan, the rider who won the title, were tied at the top with 19 wins each.
Now normally, jockeys don't have much say as to which horses they ride. That decision is almost always left to their agents, so when the choice to ride either Tebowmania or Racal On Tour in Wednesday's five-furlong sprint fell to her, Reid snapped up the dark bay filly Tebowmania. Nolan ended up riding Rascal On Tour.
Reid's choice proved to be a winner. With Tebowmania running fourth into the turn, Reid took her wide, catching Rascal On Tour as they hit the stretch and pulling away easily for the win. Rascal On Tour finished second.
Still, the Melfort, Sask., rider did not rule the night. That distinction went to Nolan, who was in the irons for three winners.
Last weekend, however, Reid was the queen of the track with six wins over two days. Now about halfway into her first full year as a journeyman jockey, she currently sits in second place with 20 wins. Nolan leads with 22 and Christopher Husbands is third with 17.
A finalist for the Jockey Club of Canada's Sovereign Award as the top apprentice last year, Reid spent her first winter riding at Turf Paradise in Phoenix and says the experience has made her a better jockey.
"I am fit," she said right off the top when listing the benefits of riding all winter. "That really helps. I didn't have to go through the whole process being really sore all the time, or being unfit, tired all the time and getting beat. My timing is better too, maybe."
Reid also said being part of a better jockey colony brought out the best in her.
"They are tougher and you have to get better. You pick up the good habits, rather than riding with the bad riders and picking up the bad habits."
At 24, Reid is really only beginning to come into her own as far as her career is concerned. Last week her valet, Bill Chabot, reminded her that even at her young age, time marches on while at the same time she still has a long way to go.
"He told me, 'Did you know that you've rode 1,000 races?' That's pretty cool. That's a lot of horses, and it doesn't include the 1,000 to 1,500 horses I have been on in the mornings. Time has really flown by."
Going into tonight's race card, Reid actually has 1,042 races under her belt with 166 trips to the winner's circle.
This weekend, Reid intends to build on her record and included in her plans are a pair of stakes races.
In the sixth race on Saturday she'll be riding three-year-old filly A Girl's Gotta Do in the $25,000, six-furlong Hazel Wright Stakes for Manitoba-bred sired horses.
On Sunday, she'll grab the reins of Seven Tuff, a veteran gelding trained by Wendell Matt, in the $30,000, six-furlong Free Press Stakes for horses three years old and up.
Reid says her chances in both races are good.
"A Girl's Gotta Do is trained by Shelley Brown (2012 trainer of the year). She is pretty fit, happy and set to run.
"Seven Tuff came from Phoenix and he's fit. I rode him down there all winter. We never won one but we ran second and third in stake races against some good horses, so we chased everybody down."
Reid's going to have a battle on her hands for anything she gets this weekend, however, especially in the two stakes races. Also in the hunt in the Hazel Wright stakes will be Husbands on Uptown Manhattan and Tyrone Nelson on Getting Frisky. My Dream Cat, with Janine Smith in the irons, could also pose a problem.
In the Free Press Stakes on Sunday, Reid and Seven Tuff also find themselves in some pretty impressive company as the morning line has them listed as 15-1 long shots. She's going to need to figure out a way to beat such monster horses as two-time horse of the year -- and last year's Manitoba Lotteries Derby winner -- Balooga Bull (a 3-5 favourite, with Nolan up) and Pleasant Closing (3-1 odds, Nelson up). Pleasant Closing is the only horse to ever beat the Bull and he's done it twice, last year and again this year. Add to the mix Husbands on Ran The Man (9-2), Trevor Simpson on Cherokee's Goal (10-1) and Adolfo Morales on Grandpa George (4-1).
IMPORTANT REMINDER: During the Red River Exhibition (tonight until June 23), racing fans are urged to drive in through the backstretch entrance to Assiniboia Downs on Saskatchewan Avenue. In order to get to Saskatchewan Avenue, approach from Sturgeon, Cavalier or Buchanan streets. If you come in from Portage Avenue, you'll have to pay $5 for Ex parking. By using the backstretch entrance, you'll still pay $5 but you can exchange your parking ticket for a $5 betting voucher. Post time tonight and Saturday is 7:30 p.m. Sunday's racing starts at 1:30 p.m.