Jockey Forest Boyce logs 1000th career win
Continuing a productive start to 2024, jockey Forest Boyce won two races Friday at Laurel Park, the second of them giving her 1,000 victories for her career.
“Everyone else has been more focused on it than I have, to be honest,” she said of the milestone afterwards. “Like, it’s a wonderful accomplishment. We’ve just been trying to get decent dirt mounts all winter.”
That has been mission pretty well accomplished thus far. Boyce entered the racing weekend with five wins from 26 starts at Laurel in 2024, nearly $193,000 in earnings. Her five wins are 1.62 more than expectations, the fifth-best total in the colony to date.
“We’ve had a couple of nice horses this winter,” she said. “It’s good to have another good winter again, because I probably haven’t had a winter like this since Dickie [Small] was alive.”
Small, who passed away in 2014, won 10 Grade 1 races with stalwarts like Broad Brush, Concern, and Tactile and was known for supporting the careers of young female riders like Boyce, Rosie Napravnik, and Andrea Seefeldt Knight.
Boyce, who in response to the inevitable question says with a laugh that she is “old enough,” won an amateur race in 2006 but didn’t start her career in earnest until midway through 2009, getting her first win of that season with Colony Club on the turf at Colonial Downs. Colony Club went on to win multiple stakes and remains the 10th-richest runner of Boyce’s career.
It also presaged something that Boyce pointed to as a frustration: she has been pigeonholed at times as more of a turf rider. That perception obviously hurts in the Mid-Atlantic, where turf opportunities are not nearly so plentiful as dirt races.
“I used to have [trainers like] Dickie and Tim Tullock and other guys that had a lot of dirt horses that could carry me through,” Boyce said.
Indeed, the two richest horses Boyce has ridden were dirt horses. She piloted Broad Rule to nearly $390,000 and multiple stakes wins for Small and guided Eighttofasttocatch to almost a half-million dollars in earnings for Tim Keefe.
CHECK OUT THE LATEST OFF TO THE RACES RADIO!
Keefe has consistently employed Boyce in recent years. It was one of his runners, first-time starter Midsummers Eve for owner-breeder Cynthia McGinnes and Francis Clemens, whose win in Friday’s third race put Boyce on the cusp of the milestone.
“It’s a huge accomplishment, and I’m happy to have been a part of it,” Keefe said of Boyce’s 1,000 wins. “I think she’s a very natural rider, and she seems to get a lot of run out of horses. She gets results for me. And I put her on the horses in the morning, and she gets a good read on what they are or aren’t.”
Boyce reached the milestone aboard Determined Driver. The Phil Schoenthal trainee, a winner at first asking as a two-year-old, had run a troubled second against boys in the Timonium Juvenile but had not raced since that September 2 tilt. In Friday’s contest, she chased the pace on the turn before swooping up while wide, taking over inside the sixteenth pole, and winning by almost two lengths.
Boyce bagged 129 winners from 759 mounts in 2010, the most winners she’s ridden in a season. She registered her highest earnings in 2013, when she won 80 races and had just shy of $3.5 million in earnings.
That was the year she earned her first graded stakes win, piloting Nellie Cashman to an upset victory in the Grade 3 Virginia Oaks. She has five graded wins in her career to date.
Boyce grew up around horses in Baltimore County, attending Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills and playing on the school’s polo team. She subsequently earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Maryland Institute College of Art before
Boyce has long been represented by agent Jay “Shug” Burtis, and now, as she’s become an accomplished veteran, she’s experienced the ebbs and flows of the game: business won, lost, won again, opportunities earned, doors closed and then opened. With 1,000 wins behind her, business looks to be on the upswing, and turf season hasn’t even arrived yet.
“It’s all a circle, right?” she said, discussing trainers with whom she previously worked and now is working again. “What goes around comes around. It’s funny how you come back around. It’s been nice.”