After Battle, Cooksey Set for Return at Churchill Downs

Jockey Patricia Cooksey, 44, the all-time leading female rider at Churchill Downs, is scheduled to ride at the Louisville track June 26 in her return to competition after a battle with breast cancer.

Cooksey, 44, has been named to ride Richard, Elaine, and Bert Klein's Gold Empress in the fourth race, a one-mile maiden-claiming race. The race will be the first for Cooksey since early September of last year. Her last victory came on Sept. 7, 2001 at Turfway Park.

Cooksey underwent a mastectomy at Norton Suburban Hospital in Louisville six days after that victory and later underwent reconstructive surgery and chemotherapy. Cooksey climbed aboard her first horse after the surgery in January at Trackside Louisville training center, but did not return to the saddle on a regular basis until mid-April, when she started galloping and working horses at Churchill Downs and Keeneland.

"I'm looking forward to it," said Cooksey, one of only two women to win more than 2,000 races. (The other is all-time leader Julie Krone.) "I'm excited. I just want to get back into the competition again. I watch a race and it just drives me crazy. I want to be out there and I want that thrill again."

Cooksey has 212 victories at Churchill Downs. She is the first woman to win a riding title at a Kentucky racetrack, and she led the country in wins by a female jockey in 1980, 1981, and 1983.