Kelsi Harr (Coady Photography)
By Robert Yates – Oaklawn Barn Notes
HOT SPRINGS, Ark.— After becoming the first female jockey in Oaklawn history to surpass $1 million in purse earnings at a meet last season, Kelsi Harr broke another record Saturday.
Based on statistics from Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization, Harr had amassed $2,811,257 in career purse earnings at Oaklawn. Cindy Murphy held the previous Oaklawn record for career purse earnings by a female jockey ($2,792,644).
Harr eclipsed Murphy’s total with her second mount Saturday when Arkansas-bred standout Bandit Point earned $650 in the ninth race, a $104,000 allowance for older horses at 1 1/16 miles. Bandit Point was already the most influential horse in Harr’s career since he marked her first career mount and winner June 17, 2018, at Canterbury Park. Harr’s fiancée, Robert N. Cline, owns and trains Bandit Point, the jockey’s all-time favorite horse.
“For it to be him, I thought it was fitting for sure,” Harr said during training hours Sunday morning. “I didn’t know until afterwards, but I was told by somebody that when I ran fourth in the first race, I was $50 short of the milestone. Even though (Bandit Point) ran seventh, he was the one that put me over, so I thought that was perfect. Wish we would have won and done it, but love it that it was with him. Everything started with him. It was awesome.”
Harr, 30, began riding at Oaklawn in 2019 and has increased her mounts and purse earnings each season. She was Oaklawn’s leading apprentice jockey in 2020 with 11 victories and rode 18 winners at the 2021-2022 meeting, with her mounts earning $1,187,724 in purses.
Murphy, riding mostly as Cindy Noll, recorded 183 victories at Oaklawn in 1997-2006. She remains Oaklawn’s runaway leader among female riders for career victories. She also set a single-season Oaklawn record for victories by a female rider (47) in 1999. Harr entered Sunday with 41 victories in her Oaklawn career, including two this season.
A native of tiny Slovak, Ark., about 45 miles east of Little Rock, Harr also gallops and works horses for Cline and is a longtime exercise rider at Oaklawn for trainer Al Cates of Hot Springs.
Bandit Point, an 8-year-old son of Indy Squall, has $512,640 in career earnings.