Winning the $75,000 Lightning City Stakes aboard 4-year-old filly Jenny’s So Great on Opening Day at Tampa Bay Downs was a magical moment for jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. But it couldn’t compare to giving birth to her first child Aug. 21.
While baby daughter Victoria Rose was being cared for at home by the mom of Homeister’s fiancé and fellow jockey, Irwin Rosendo, Homeister guided Jenny’s So Great through a narrow opening in deep stretch to win the five-furlong turf race for owners Vicki and Bill Poston and trainer Jason Servis. It was one of two Opening Day victories for Homeister, who has 2,441 in her career.
Homeister’s Opening Day success only a month following her return to action led to her being named Hilton Garden Inn Jockey of the Month. It also affirmed the dedication to her craft displayed by Homeister, the 1992 Eclipse Award winner as the nation’s top apprentice jockey.
“Tampa Bay Downs is like my home track, and I was so excited to come back here and get started again,” said Tampa resident Homeister, who was on maternity leave for nine months before returning In November to ride one winner for trainer Eric Reed, her daughter’s godfather, at Churchill Downs.
“To win that Opening Day stakes was such a thrill. But there is no comparison between that and being a mom,” said the 39-year-old Homeister. “That is the most amazing feeling I’ve ever had in my life. All I kept thinking about during my pregnancy was ‘I’m fat, I’m fat,’ because as a jockey we are programmed to be a certain weight. But nothing is more important to me now than my daughter. I used to be single and independent and everything was about me -- now it’s all about her. And Irwin is very supportive of everything I do and is a great, great daddy,” Homeister added.
The second day of the 2011-12 meeting Wednesday featured a scintillating performance by multiple stakes-winning 3-year-old filly It’s Me Mom in the $30,000 Minaret Prep. The homebred daughter of Put It Back, running for owners Jean and Thomas Bosch and trained by Lynne Scace, sped the six furlongs in 1:10 after setting all the fractions under jockey Willie Martinez. It’s Me Mom, who finished second in last year’s Sandpiper Stakes locally, has won three stakes at Presque Isle Downs and one at Suffolk.
Jockey Danny Coa won three races on Wednesday’s card. His big day started aboard 33-1 shot Budidinha in the first race, and he won the eighth on Butterdish and the ninth on This Guy. Fellow rider Mark Guidry recorded career victory No. 5,054 in the fifth race aboard No Inflation for Glen Hill Farm.
Live racing resumes Friday with a 12:25 p.m. first-race post time. The Super High-5 carryover pool is $3,054.02. Saturday is Cotillion Festival Day Presented by Lambholm South, with every race for 2-year-olds. The feature stakes races Saturday are the $75,000 Sandpiper for juvenile fillies and the $75,000 Inaugural Stakes for 2-year-old colts and geldings. Tampa Bay Downs also offers no-limit poker, golf and simulcast wagering from tracks across the country.