Already the all-time leading female trainer by wins, Kim Hammond notched her 2,000th career victory Feb. 8 when she saddled Big Smooth to an emphatic seven-length score in the fourth race at Turfway Park (VIDEO).
The victory came in the final race of the day Saturday before track officials decided to call off the remainder of the card due to dangerous conditions brought on by heavy snowfall.
"It feels good. It's about time!" Hammond exclaimed, noting that in the last month her trainee Limerick Lady had twice brought her within a head of reaching the mark.
"Where's my champagne?" Hammond laughed, referencing Turfway's tradition of toasting winning owners and trainers in its paddock lounge. As she watched the replay from the lounge, however, the emotional impact of her accomplishment came home.
"I just wish my mom was here today," Hammond said through tears. "I lost my mom, Imogene, two years ago. She was a big fan. When you're close to your parents, you want them to be there with you."
Born in East St. Louis, Ill., Hammond grew up competing in barrel racing and pole bending events. At 14 she went to work for her father, Everett Hammond, a dominant fixture for decades at Fairmount Park. She and her brother, four years younger, galloped horses on the family farm, and she often ponied her dad's runners at night. After high school graduation she began taking his horses on the road.
When a heart attack forced her dad to cut back in the early 1980s, he turned most of his 100 horses over to his son.
"It's a tough life for anybody, but you figure back then, in the '80s, for a girl . . .? No way," Hammond said. "There were hardly any women in the business then, and my dad didn't think I had a shot. He gave me 12 or 15 horses. It was tough for my brother, too. He was only 18 years old."
Over the next 18 months, many of her dad's former clients made their way to Kim Hammond's barn, and she began adding clients of her own as well.
"The owners started coming to me," she said, "and they've stuck with me. It takes a long time to establish that relationship."
Hammond, 56, currently has about 20 horses in training and maintains strings seasonally at Indiana Downs and at Turfway. She makes her home on a small farm outside Indianapolis, where she raises homebred additions to her stable.
Joseph Berrios was aboard for the milestone ride on Big Smooth, an 8-year-old gelding who was making his 72nd career start. He is owned by Joe Kasperski.