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It did not take long for Jordan Springer to find her way back to the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs.
Sidelined for more than seven months after shattering a bone in her upper back in a training mishap, Springer returned to the races Friday afternoon and on her second mount scored a front-running, 5 ¼-length victory in the eighth race aboard Geri’s Kid for trainer Roger Anderson.
“That was awesome,” Springer said of racing to the wire with no competition in sight. “It felt like a million dollars.”
Springer, a 30-year-old native of Albany, N.Y., won for the first time since Aug. 30, 2007, at Calder Race Course. The victory was the 72nd of her riding career that began in 2004.
She had finished fifth on her first mount Friday, Carsons Regal Lady, in the fifth race.
“When it (the accident in November) first happened, I didn’t think I would be back,” said Springer, who was the leading female rider at Churchill Downs during the Spring and Fall Meets of 2005.
In the same race, Matthew Straight, a recent graduate of the North American Racing Academy (NARA) in Lexington, Ky., rode in his first pari-mutuel event. Riding Bali Warrior for trainer Bernard Girdley, Straight raced in mid-pack before fading to fifth in the one-mile race.
So, how did the 22-year-old feel after completing his first assignment on the new job?
“I’m tired,” Straight said with a laugh. “He showed some speed and I didn’t think he would.”
Straight became the second graduate from NARA, which was founded and is run by retired Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, to ride in a pari-mutuel event. Jessica Oldham Stith finished fifth in her debut on June 17 at River Downs.
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