Jockey Boyce Riding High Ahead of Maryland Million

Jockey Boyce Riding High Ahead of Maryland Million

Maiden, Allowance Events Highlight Friday Program
Marquez’s Thursday Hat Trick Includes Maiden Sweep

LAUREL, MD – Just over a week away from the 38th Jim McKay Maryland Million Day program Oct. 14 at Laurel Park, jockey Forest Boyce finds herself riding at the top of her game.

For the Baltimore native and Fallston, Md. resident, who turns 39 on Sunday, it’s all been about opportunity.

“I feel like I’ve been riding the same as I always ride, to be honest with you. I’ve just been fortunate that my horses are in the right spots and the races are going. That’s the big key, [having] the right races go for your horse,” Boyce said. “I’m lucky that the races went, and they all went at once.”

Following Thursday’s program, Boyce had won with nine of her last 23 starters dating back to Sept. 10, a 39 percent success rate, including a Sept. 30 hat trick at Laurel, where she is named in two races Friday and Sunday and three Saturday. She leads the fall meet standings with five wins from 12 mounts (42 percent).

Boyce traces her recent success back to the summer meet at Colonial Downs, where she ranked sixth with 13 wins and $848,825 in purse earnings, capturing the Edward P. Evans on Alex Joon and running second in the Van Clief with Yes and Yes. Twenty-two of her 30 wins on the year have come since Aug. 1.

“It was great. We’d been pretty slow over the winter and spring, so we talked about trying to jump start things down at Colonial,” Boyce said. “We’ve always done well down there. It’s like summer camp. I love summer camp down there. It’s great.

“You see different people. It’s a different group of jocks, different group of horses,” she added. “We were very fortunate to have a lot of success. A lot of people from Laurel supported us. We picked up a few new clients that way and that has translated into some more dirt business, which has been good.”

Five of nine wins during the recent streak have come on dirt for Boyce, long regarded for her success and ability in grass races.

“I’ve been pigeonholed as a turf rider and Colonial gave me an opportunity with some dirt trainers, which is great,” she said. “I think that’s really helped, as well.”

Represented for years by Jay ‘Shug’ Burtis, Boyce had ridden in only 130 races over the first seven months of 2023, but has gone 22-for-97 over the past two months. During that time she has placed in four stakes, running second with King Vega in the Baltimore-Washington International Turf Cup (G3) and third on Blue Creek in the Laurel Futurity, Creative Cairo in the All Along and Cecile in the Searching.

“I feel like we’ve kind of tried to do it the same over the years. You want to ride as much as you can; there’s just not as much opportunity as there used to be. There’s a lot more riders and fewer horses,” Boyce said. “The game has just changed a lot and I think that’s why it looks like we’re far more selective, but that’s not the case. There’s a lot of competition out there.”

Boyce is 23 away from 1,000 career wins. She was runner-up for the Eclipse Award as champion apprentice of 2010 when she won a season-high 129 races, captured riding titles at Laurel’s summer and fall meets, and was the state’s overall leading rider with 104 victories at Laurel and historic Pimlico Race Course.

She is tied for the ninth-most wins in Maryland Million history with seven, her first coming with Pocket Patch in the 2011 Turf. Other notable victories have come with Eighttofasttocatch in the 2013 and 2014 Classic, Crabcakes in the 2017 and 2018 Distaff, and Jack’s in the Deck in the 2015 Sprint.

“It’s great, because it’s Maryland’s day at the races. It’s always fun because it has a good crowd and it’s always good to ride on big days,” Boyce said. “I think everyone feeds off the energy and it’s fun.

“Jack’s in the Deck, that was a big one the day I beat Ben’s Cat. That was so much fun,” she added. “Obviously, Eighttofasttocatch. He’s in my barn now. My mom hunts him all the time. He’s the best. We love him. Not only was he good to me on the track, he’s been good to me afterward.”

Now 18, Eighttofasttocatch is the only horse to win the Classic three times, also taking it in 2011 with jockey Sheldon Russell, and is one of just seven horses with three Maryland Million victories. He has been at the Boyce family farm in Fallston since the summer of 2019.

“At the racetrack, he was so tough. Peter [Brown-Whale], his exercise rider, is tall and probably one of the best exercise riders you’ll ever come across. He used to say how tough he was in the morning,” Boyce said. “As a jockey you had to get a pony to pony him to the pole, otherwise you weren’t going to get there. Out foxhunting, he’ll go behind other horses on a loose rein. It’s wild. I never would have thought he’d have been that good at it. He loves it.”

Maiden, Allowance Events Highlight Friday Program

A maiden special weight for horses ages 3, 4 and 5 and a trio of allowance events highlight Friday’s 10-race program at Laurel Park.

Post time is 12:25 p.m.

An overflow field of 12 maidens was entered for Race 2, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles over the Fort Marcy Turf Course. Hurrying Home, a $300,000 son of champion Uncle Mo, adds blinkers in his first start for trainer Brittany Russell and first since his Feb. 23 debut at Gulfstream Park for Hall of Famer Bill Mott. Trainer Arnaud Delacour will unveil Mark Grier’s He Did It, a $275,000 yearling bred by late Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard.

Sixteen fillies and mares 3 and up, including five also-eligibles and Smoochinwithcindy for main track only, are in the lineup for Race 6, an entry-level allowance scheduled for 5 ½ furlongs on the Fort Marcy layout. Among them are stakes-placed Awesome Jazz; 3-year-old Lightress, a $500,000 daughter of City of Light making her sixth career start and third for Delacour; and last-out winner Bandonarun, who defeated elders Sept. 8 at historic Pimlico Race Course.

Race 8 is a 1 1/16-mile allowance for Maryland-bred/sired fillies and mares 3 and up scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the Kelso turf course. Nine were entered including Naval Empire, runner-up in the Nellie Mae Cox Sept. 2 at Colonial Downs, and Mike Trombetta-trained stablemate Livelovenlaughter, fourth by two lengths after setting the pace in the Aug. 13 Searching at Laurel; multiple stakes-placed Island Philo; and Money’s Worth, third in the six-furlong Jameela on the Laurel turf June 1.

The feature comes in Race 9, an open allowance for fillies and mares 3 and up sprinting six furlongs on the main track. The 2-1 program favorite is Willful Desire, 5-for-10 this year for New York-based trainer David Jacobson with wins over Laurel’s turf and dirt courses. Desert Daliance ships in from New Jersey for trainer Kelly Breen off a runner-up finish in an Aug. 29 optional claimer at Parx. Winked has been third or better in 12 of 13 career starts with five seconds and five thirds.

Following a 45-1 upset by Dream River ($92.40) in Thursday’s Race 1 finale, there will be carryovers of $13,748.68 in the 50-cent Late Pick 5 (Races 6-10) and $8,239.30 in the 20-cent Rainbow 6 (Races 5-10), as well as $1,184.82 in the $1 Jackpot Super High Five (Race 6). Tickets with four of five winners in the Pick 5 returned $327.30, while tickets with four of six winners in the Rainbow 6 were worth $89.12.

Notes: Jockey Charlie Marquez swept the early daily double aboard Inveigled ($10.20) in Race 1 and Pickin Sea Glass ($5.60) in Race 2. Marquez completed his hat trick on Sweet Rockin ($37) in Race 6 … Mark Grier’s Inveigled, an Indiana-bred son of multiple graded-stakes winner Enticed, pulled away under a hand ride to a six-length victory in the 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight for 2-year-olds, his second career start. The winning time was 1:03.99 over a fast main track … Bill Shook’s Maryland homebred Street Rockin, racing for the third time, captured Thursday’s other juvenile maiden special weight, a 5 ½-furlong dash over a firm Kelso turf course, in 1:04.50. Enzo, a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Caravel and full brother to multiple stakes winner Witty, was fifth … Sheffield Stable’s Brother Conway ($13), second in three starts off a late June claim by trainer Kieron Magee, broke through with his fourth career win in featured Race 9, an open six-furlong allowance for 3-year-olds and up, in 1:09.20 over a fast main track.