11/03/2009 12:00AM

Homeister joining exclusive company

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Photos By Z/Keeneland
Rosemary Homeister Jr. and Cloudy's Knight are winners at Keeneland last month.

ARCADIA, Calif. - It was in July that Rosemary Homeister Jr. became the second-winningest female jockey in North American racing history.

She would like November to be the month when she becomes the second female jockey to win a Breeders' Cup event.

Homeister will ride in the leadoff event of the two-day, 14-race Breeders' Cup when she climbs aboard Cloudy's Knight for the $500,000 BC Marathon on Friday at Santa Anita. She will become just the seventh female jockey to compete in the 26-year history of the Breeders' Cup and will try to join Julie Krone as the only woman to ride a BC winner.

"I really hope I can come out a winner and give other women jockeys the opportunity to step up their game, to know that it's possible to get to this level," said Homeister.

Krone, who had 17 Breeders' Cup mounts during her Hall of Fame career, rode Halfbridled to win the 2003 BC Juvenile Fillies at Santa Anita. Krone is the all-time leading female jockey with 3,704 wins, while Homeister passed Patti Cooksey for second on July 20 at Colonial Downs in Virginia by riding her 2,138th winner. As of Monday, Homeister had upped her career total to 2,194.

With her first BC mount, Homeister will join Krone as the only women to ride in both the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup. Three others have ridden in the Derby, while five others have ridden in the Breeders' Cup.

"I didn't know that," she said. "It feels amazing."

Women jockeys in the Breeders' Cup

Jockey No. of mounts Best finish
Donna Barton 2 Hennessy, 2nd, 1995
Julie Krone 17 Halfbridled, 1st, 2003
Greta Kuntzweiler 1 Freefourinternet, 13th, 2004
Lisa McFarland 1 Ricks Natural Star, 14th, 1996
Chantal Sutherland 1 Mine That Bird, 12th, 2008
Francine Villeneuve 1 Wilderness Song, 7th, 1991

Homeister, 37, has been riding professionally since 1992, when she won an Eclipse Award for top apprentice. She retired in November 2004 but was back riding in a little more than 18 months. Her mother, Rosemary Sr., is a jockey-turned-trainer based at Calder, where the younger Rosemary grew up around horses.

Cloudy's Knight, a 9-year-old gelding bred and owned by Shirley and Jerrold Schwartz, is a Sovereign Award champion of 2007 who has earned more than $2.25 million in a 38-race career. From 3 to 8, he raced for two Chicago-based trainers, Frank Kirby and Jimmy McMullen, but after he incurred a soft-tissue injury in a hind leg late last year, the Schwartzes turned to Jonathan Sheppard, whose reputation as a master with older turf horses is a big part of his Hall of Fame legend. In two races for Sheppard this fall in Kentucky, Cloudy's Knight was a winner, both times with Homeister aboard. Off those solid comebacks, he figures as the third or fourth choice in the Marathon, a 1 3/4-mile Pro-Ride race that drew a field of 11.

Sheppard said that although Cloudy's Knight has never raced on a synthetic surface, he believes turf horses tend to make a smooth natural transition and that the gelding has trained well over the Polytrack at Keeneland in recent weeks. He also said he is confident in the job Homeister will do.

"She rides a fine race," said Sheppard. "We're very glad to have her."

Homeister, who was scheduled to arrive here after riding Tuesday at Philadelphia Park and Penn National, then Wednesday at Laurel Park, said she will be joined in California by her mother and by her longtime boyfriend, horse owner Richard Averill.

"It's very exciting to have been given this opportunity by the Schwartzes and Jonathan," she said. "It looks like we have a very good chance. The distance should fit him perfectly. Jonathan is such a great conditioner, so no worries there."