Years ago, Rubin made history at Charles Town


February 25, 2008|By LARRY YANOS

Friday marked the 39th anniversary of an historic event at Charles Town Races & Slots.

On Feb. 22, 1969, Barbara Jo Rubin became the first woman jockey to win a pari-mutuel race in North America when she rode Cohesion to victory at the West Virginia thoroughbred oval.

Maryland state steward Phil Grove, who resides in Frederick, still remembers that evening.

The former jockey competed against Rubin and recalled the race on Saturday.

"I remember that night, It was a little different," Grove said. "The guys didn't want to ride against her, that's for sure. Management didn't force our hand, but they really wanted the race to go and expressed that to us. They more or less said, 'It's going to happen sometime, somewhere. Why not have it happen here at Charles Town where we can get some national attention?'"

Rubin appeared on national television in the days that followed the race.


Grove finished third in the race aboard Tetrion.

"She was on the best horse. It was nearly a stakes-caliber horse," Grove said. "She went to the front and no one could catch her."

Rubin's career lasted only one year due to injuries. She won 28 of 98 mounts and was inducted into the Charles Town Hall of Fame in 1994.

They're off

Thoroughbred horse racing is under way at the new Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in Grantville, Pa.

The $310 million complex is built on the site of the original Penn National Race Course. That facility was leveled in the spring of 2006 to make way for the 365,000-square foot gaming and racing property that opened on Feb. 12 with 2,020 slot machines.

Live racing will be held every Tuesday through Saturday beginning at 6:45 p.m.

The 6-furlong curtain raiser on Feb. 14 carried a purse of $25,000 -- the richest maiden race ever run at the Grantville oval. The new season started with a daily average purse distribution of $110,000, a near 60 percent jump previous purses.

Saturday night's nine-race program included the first $50,000 claiming race in track history, and a record $128,000 in overnight purse distribution.

Pony tales

ยท Former Maryland-based jockey Edgar Prado, who won the 2006 Kentucky Derby aboard Barbaro and was in the saddle when the popular thoroughbred broke down during the Preakness Stakes, is among 12 finalists for the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame.

Jockeys Randy Romero and Alex Solis and trainers Carl Nafzger and Robert Wheeler are among the nominees.

The 40-year-old Prado, a two-time winner of the Belmont Stakes, captured his 6,000th win on Feb. 10 and has earned more than $200 million during his 25-year career.

Nafzger, a former rodeo rider from Texas, trained two Kentucky Derby winners: Unbridled in 1990 and Street Sense in 2007. Both were division champions, as was Banshee Breeze, the outstanding 3-year-old filly of 1998. Through 2007, Nafzger had 1,068 victories, purse earnings of $50 million and 68 graded stakes wins.

Wheeler, who died in 1992, conditioned C.V. Whitney's Silver Spoon, the co-champion 3-year-old filly of 1959 that defeated males in the Santa Anita Derby. Wheeler won the Santa Anita again in 1960 with Tompion.

Inductees will be announced in April and enshrined Aug. 4 at the Hall across from the Saratoga Race Course.

n Winning Colors, the 1988 Kentucky Derby winner and the third and last filly to win the Triple Crown race, was euthanized last Sunday due to a bout with colic.

She was 23.

With Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens aboard for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas, Winning Colors led wire-to-wire, defeating champion Forty Niner and giving Stevens and Lukas their first Derby victory.

Winning Colors also won the Grade I Santa Anita Derby and Santa Anita Oaks that year, finishing with eight wins, three seconds, and a third with earnings of $1,526,837.

Larry Yanos covers horse racing for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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