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Jockey Forest Boyce to ride this winter at Fair Grounds

At age 26, Forest Boyce (Garrison Forest) is in her first full season as a journeyman jockey after having wowed Maryland racing as an apprentice rider last year. The Monkton native is one of three finalists for Apprentice Rider of the Year at the 2010 Eclipse Awards, which will be announced Monday.
At age 26, Forest Boyce (Garrison Forest) is in her first full season as a journeyman jockey after having wowed Maryland racing as an apprentice rider last year. The Monkton native is one of three finalists for Apprentice Rider of the Year at the 2010 Eclipse Awards, which will be announced Monday. (Jed Kirschbaum / Baltimore Sun photo)

Forest Boyce, who has won nearly 350 races in Maryland during the past five years, will move her tack to Fair Grounds for the winter after receiving a call from recently retired rider Rosie Napravnik, who sat atop the jockey standings at the New Orleans track the past three years.

"It was really last-minute. Rosie called, we discussed it and I decided to take the chance," Boyce said. "I don't even have a place to stay yet. They race five days a week in January and February, while we are going to be running three days at best and we are expecting another brutal winter like last year."

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The Fair Grounds meet begins Friday and runs through March 29.

"It is time to try something new and get out of my comfort zone," added Boyce, who has ridden 346 of her 488 career winners at the major Maryland tracks. "It works out perfectly for me to be back for the start of the Pimlico meet" on April 2.

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Boyce will ride at Laurel Park through Friday, then is scheduled to ride Nellie Cashman in the Cardinal Handicap Stakes (Grade 3) at Churchill Downs on Saturday before heading to New Orleans.

The 30-year old has teamed up with Eighttofasttocatch for five stakes victories, including the last two runnings of the Maryland Million Classic and a second-place finish in the 2013 Pimlico Special (G3). She plans to ride the son of Not For Love for his final career start in the Jennings Handicap at Laurel on Dec. 6 for trainer Tim Keefe.

The Garrison Forest graduate was runner-up for an Eclipse Award for outstanding apprentice in 2010, when was the leading jockey in the state with 104 victories at Laurel and Pimlico Race Course, winning 106 races from June 29 through Dec. 18 and capturing the Laurel summer and fall riding titles.

Napravnik, whose racing career took root in Maryland before she became a presence on the national scene, is expecting a baby in June and stopped competitive riding as of Nov. 1.

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Turf racing done for year

Laurel racing officials decided Tuesday not to use the turf course for the rest of the year. Seven grass races were scheduled this week.

This fall, 131 grass races were held at Laurel, with a $16.31 average win payout. Forty betting favorites won races. The average field size was 10.4 runners per race.

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