For the first time in the history of Arlington Park, a female jockey leads the track's rider standings.
Following a riding double last Sunday, jockey Inez Karlsson forged to the front of the Arlington leader board entering Thursday's races after making five trips to the winner's circle during the first week of the 2010 season. Entering Thursday's race card, she had 5 wins, 5 second-place finishes and 3 third-place mounts in 24 races and led in overall earnings with $108,825.
It has been an amazing climb for Karlsson in her brief career, which began at Arlington in 2007. The Swedish-born athlete, who turned 27 last month, took down leading apprentice honors during the 2008 Arlington meeting while finishing fifth in the overall standings.
Later, she was leading rider at Hawthorne for its falls session, and repeated that championship at Hawthorne in the spring of 2010.
Last summer she became Arlington's all-time leading female rider in June and moved up a spot to fourth in 2009's final standings.
"Last season here it took me 45 mounts before I won my first race," Karlsson said Thursday morning in the jockeys' room. "This season I broke my maiden on the first day so things are starting off well for me.
"I think a lot of people have a shot to be leading rider this year, because no one guy has all the business," Karlsson said. "For instance, last year I rode mostly for Frank Kirby, but now I ride for anyone. My business looks very positive, but I still have a long ways to go to be the best I can be. I set different goals to spur me on every year. Now, I'm telling myself I have to get stronger, and I have to ride smarter. Last week I got beat three heads, so the way I think, I could have had eight winners. I've got to improve on that."
Asked where she would like to be in her career five or 10 years from now, Karlsson wasn't certain.
"That's hard to say," she responded. "I can't really answer that right now because as you get older things are always changing. I'm 27 right now, and being female I might want to settle down fairly soon and take time to have a family.
"If I do that, would I want to come back to ride again - and would I be as good as when I stopped? Or would I even want to come back?
"These are all things I have to consider in the next five years or so," Karlsson concluded, "so I'll just have to think about all those kinds of things as my life moves along."
Weekend events: Mother's Day at Arlington has always attracted one of the biggest crowds of the season, and Sunday will be no exception, with Family Day activities featured in the Park Area to include pony rides, a petting zoo and the opportunity for the kids to make themed Mother's Day crafts.
Also, in another Arlington tradition, the first 7,500 ladies through the gates on Sunday will be presented with a rose.
On Saturday, Arlington will offer another attraction for the first time in its history when the race course celebrates the Chicago Symphony Orchestra's Day at the Races. Arlington guests may enjoy performances by the CSO, the Civic Orchestra (training orchestra of the CSO) and the Chicago Symphony Chorus.