FOREST BoYCE RETURNS A WINNER AT PIMLICO

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First winner back for jockey Forest Boyce. Trainer Mike Geralis is at right. Photo Maryland Jockey Club.

 In just her second mount back after missing 54 days with a shoulder injury, champion Maryland jockey Forest Boyce returned a winner in Friday’s fifth race at Pimlico Race Course.

Boyce, 36, piloted William McCarthy’s 4-year-old gelding Booyakasha ($3.40) to a popular six-length victory in the six-furlong claiming event for 3-year-olds and up. The winning time was 1:12.23 over a fast main track.

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Booyakasha, trained by Emanuel ‘Mike’ Geralis, showed speed from outside Post 10 and tracked pacesetter Bourbon Bryce for a quarter-mile before sweeping to the lead around the far turn and powering home through the stretch an easy winner.

“It feels great. I appreciate them giving me the opportunity,” Boyce said. “I just had to hang on. It was a real confidence booster today.”

The win was the first for Boyce since Miss Philly Dilly in a Feb. 7 maiden claimer at Laurel Park. Until her return aboard Ice Rain, her lone mount on Thursday’s opening day of the Preakness Meet at Pimlico, she last raced Feb. 28 at Laurel.

“It was out at the farm. A horse fell with me over a jump,” Boyce said of the injury. “It was the coracoclavicular ligament; not the rotator cuff but the one that kind of stabilizes it. That’s why it took so long.

“I think it would have been a lot easier if I broke it. If you break a collarbone, you’re back in a couple weeks,” she added. “It took six weeks and it went a lot quicker than they thought it would. The orthopedist was really impressed with how quick I healed.”

Boyce had three other mounts Thursday, running third with Dare to Promise in Race 8. The Baltimore native and Maryland Institute of Art graduate owns 846 career victories, and was runner-up for the 2010 Eclipse Award as champion apprentice when she won 129 races and nearly $2.1 million in purse earnings for the year.

Also in 2010, Boyce led all Maryland riders with 104 wins including summer and fall meet riding titles at Laurel. Represented by agent Jay ‘Shug’ Burtis, she has been the frequent go-to rider in Maryland when Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey ships in, winning such races as the 2018 Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G3) and 2020 Henry S. Clark with Doctor Mounty and the 2015 Commonwealth Oaks (G3) with Onus.

Boyce has three mounts on Saturday’s 11-race Spring Stakes Spectacular program featuring six stakes worth $650,000 in purses. She is named on Vigilantes Way in the $100,000 Dahlia and Dreams of Tomorrow in the Clark for McGaughey, and Robey’s Boy in the $100,000 King T. Leatherbury for trainer David Hill.

On Sunday, Boyce will ride 5-2 program favorite Hightailing for McGaughey in Race 5, a maiden special weight for fillies and mares 3, 4 and 5 going 1 1/16 miles on the main track.

“I’m very happy to be back,” Boyce said.

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