Jockey Sophie Doyle thought she had seen it all in her travels of the world until she was hunkered down in a severe Oklahoma thunderstorm this week.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Jockey Sophie Doyle thought she had seen it all in her travels of the world until she was hunkered down in a severe Oklahoma thunderstorm this week.
After moving her tack to Remington Park for the first time in her career for the current thoroughbred season, she also received her first taste of nasty Oklahoma weather. The overnight storm from Monday to Tuesday, Aug. 31 to Sept. 1, had lightning striking large trees with frequency with plenty of thunder that shook houses.
“How ‘bout that storm?” Doyle said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever been in one like that before. The wind was so strong and brutal.”
The storm brought as much as eight inches of rains to parts of the Oklahoma City metro in a matter of 24 hours. Doyle would similarly like to rain down victories at Remington Park this meet.
She already has made a mark on the racing world with a Grade 2 win aboard Fioretti in the Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes at Keeneland in Lexington, Ky. on Oct. 3, 2015. Doyle has done nothing but get better with age, winning her first Grade 1 stakes in America in the irons of Street Band in the Cotillion Stakes at Parx in Philadelphia on Sept. 21, 2019.
Winning in the saddle was bound to happen for Doyle. She was practically born to ride thoroughbreds. Her mother, Jacqui, was both a rider in the steeplechase world and a trainer of horses for more than a quarter of a century.
“I almost was born on a horse,” Doyle laughed. “My mom was two weeks away from having me and she was out jumping horses. I have a picture of me when I wasn’t even 2 years old yet and she had me up on a bale of hay, holding a horse for her. I couldn’t walk, but I could hold a horse.”
It’s no surprise then that Doyle already has visited the winner’s circle twice this meet here. In less than 10 years in North America her mounts have won $8,810,630, according to Equibase statistics. Going into this week of racing, she has had 243 starts in 2020 and won 29, run second 33 times and third 30 more times. Her earnings this year are approaching $1 million at $805,601.
Doyle was born in Cambridge, England in the United Kingdom and grew up in Lambourn. Her mother still makes her home across the seas but manages to watch her daughter ride on TV and apps. Sophie makes her home in Lexington, Ky.
“Mom never wanted me to be a daredevil jockey in thoroughbred racing,” Sophie said. “She gets so nervous when I ride. She says, ‘How could I not?’”
After all, Doyle broke her right collarbone in four places during a race at Churchill Downs in 2016 and had a steel plate and six screws put in place to mend the injury.
Doyle made her way to Remington Park via contacts she acquired through her agent Brian Assman, who put her in touch with this track’s all-time winningest owner Danny Caldwell. She now rides first call for him at Remington.
“I won a race in Iowa for his wife Allison,” Sophie said. “How do you make the owner happy? Make the wife happy.”
This summer Doyle was aboard D’Rapper when he defeated one of the greatest horses in Remington Park history – sprinter Welder. She barely got the best of the two-time defending Remington Park Horse of the Meet in the Iowa Sprint Stakes in July. D’Rapper has never beaten Welder at Remington Park, so it should be an interesting matchup this fall if they face off again.
Overall, Doyle has won four graded stakes in her decade of riding in the States, three of those aboard Street Band in the Grade 3 Indiana Oaks at Prairie Meadows, the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks in New Orleans and then the Grade 1 Cotillion.
“It’s every jockey’s dream to win a Grade 1; it absolutely was big-time,” said Doyle.
The only problem Doyle has encountered thus far has been the lack of respect some jockeys have for female riders. It’s been a few years now, but she had a running feud for about a year with one male jockey, Didiel Osorio.
“He dropped me at Indiana Grand and tried it again at Keeneland,” she said. “So when he got back to the jocks’ room, I punched him right in the eye. Gave him a nice shiner.”
She said she noticed a little more respect from that point until now. A few more wins at Remington and that will only become more solid.
If you think racehorses are nothing but a paycheck to jockeys, you don’t know Sophie. Jaz N Tap, who gave her the first win in the states at Churchill Downs in 2014, was recently retired by trainer Larry Demeritte.
“He told me he was going to make him into a pony,” said Doyle. “I guess I gave him that look and he said, ‘What, you want him?’ Now I own him.”
With that kind of heart and her kind of talent, Doyle could own a farm with a stable full of winners by the end of her career.
Tracked by more than 164,000 fans on Facebook and more than 10,400 Twitter followers, Remington Park has provided more than $246 Million to the State of Oklahoma general education fund since the opening of the casino in 2005. Located at the junction of Interstates 35 & 44, in the heart of the Oklahoma City Adventure District, Remington Park is open daily for casino gaming and simulcast horse racing. The 2020 Thoroughbred Season is scheduled to run through Dec. 20. Visit remingtonpark.com for more information.