Maryland natives Forest Boyce and Chris Grove wrapped up year-end titles at the major Maryland racetracks in the jockey and trainer divisions respectively after the final card of the season Dec. 18 at Laurel Park.
Despite riding only 18 winners during the first two meets of the season, Boyce won her first riding championship in the state with 104 victories at Laurel and Pimlico Race Course during 2010. The 26-year-old won the riding title for the Laurel fall meeting with 71 scores where she had 23 multiple win days, including a career-best four trips to the winner's circle Dec. 2 and Dec. 16. Erick Rodriguez finished second in the overall standings with 99 first place finishes.
“It is absolutely amazing,” said Boyce, who also won the riding title during the Laurel summer meet.
A graduate of Garrison Forest School and the Maryland Institute College of Art, Boyce spent the majority of the year as an apprentice and credits her support system, including agent Jay “Shug” Burtis, for much of the success. She began working for the late conditioner Mikey Smithwick at the age of 11 and galloped horses for trainer Dickie Small before making her professional debut in the summer of 2009. Former riders Mario Verge and Jimbo Bracciale serve as mentors.
“I have a terrific support system,” added Boyce. “The guys in the room have been really helpful as well, especially Mario Pino, Harry Vega, and Erick Rodriguez. I also have to thank all the trainers that we were able to ride for--Dickie, Ferris Allen, Hammy Smith and Alex White. You need to be on the right horses to win races.”
Grove saddled 57 winners at the major Maryland tracks during the campaign, four more than Scott Lake, who had won five straight training titles in the state. The Grove barn captured the Laurel winter and Laurel summer titles. The 41-year-old won the grade II Barbara Fritchie and General George Handicaps at Laurel Park Feb. 15 with Sweet Goodbye and Greenspring, respectively, and saddled four consecutive winners at Laurel Aug. 14.
“Those two and when Silmaril beat Ashado (in the 2005 grade III Pimlico Distaff) are the three biggest days of my career,” said Grove, who ranks in the top 50 nationally with a career-best 95 victories and $2.1 million in earnings so far this year. “This is a nice accomplishment for the entire barn and it was helped by Lake re-routing his horses out of the state, but we there to pick up the pieces. I don’t know what is going to transpire for 2011 and beyond but I want to continue racing in Maryland. This is home.”
Dickie Small and John Rigattieri shared the Laurel Park fall training title, each visiting the winners’ circle 18 times during the 57-day stand. Hamilton Smith and Ferris Allen finished one back.