08/29/2007 12:00AM

Polkey on hot streak


Jockey Melissa Polkey is on the biggest hot streak of her career.

Between Aug. 20-26, Polkey won 4 races from 20 mounts at Thistledown, giving her 19 wins for the meet, which began April 12.

That might not sound like much, but it's a giant step for Polkey, 36, who accepted her first mount in 1989.

"My paycheck last week was the biggest one that I every got," she said proudly.

Polkey will put that money to good use. She has three children, who travel with her wherever she is riding.

A native of Leakesville, Miss., Polkey began working with saddlebreds in her early teens. She eventually began galloping horses on a Thoroughbred farm, and won a match race in her first ride at Rocky Hill Downs. "I had never come out of the gate on a horse, but they let me ride and I won the race," she recalled.

From there, Polkey competed in schooling races at Jefferson Downs in Louisiana, fair meets in Oklahoma, and at Eureka Downs in Kansas, where she won her first recognized race. After stints at Remington Park and Oaklawn Park, Polkey landed at Beulah Park in the fall of 1990. "I rode a lot of longshots that finished second and third but I couldn't win a race," she said.

She finally cracked the top 10 in the standings at Charles Town before being sidelined for six months following a spill. She reluctantly had to stop riding after having two children, and she didn't compete from 1992 to 2003, when her boyfriend, trainer Andrew Weymes, coaxed her to get back in the saddle at Fort Erie.

Polkey came to Thistledown this spring and galloped horses in the morning but got few mounts in the afternoon. Her agent, Patrick Giotta, stuck with her, though, and gradually Polkey picked up mounts to the point where she is among the busiest riders at the meeting.

Horses seem to respond to Polkey's touch, and the longshots whom she rode to second-, third-, and fourth-place finishes have been replaced by winners.