When a jockey breaks maiden…

April 18, 2021

The last name is Hebert, the home state is Louisiana and the profession is jockey.

Got to be Cajun, right? Wrong.

Lindsey Hebert grew up in Delhi, a town of about 3,000 in northeast Louisiana, 40 miles west of the Mississippi River. While Hebert, 23, doesn’t hail from south Louisiana, specifically, the famed Acadiana region, she does now have something in common with some of its most notable riding products, including Hall of Famers Eddie Delahoussaye, Calvin Borel, Kent Desormeaux and Randy Romero. Hebert is a winner at Oaklawn.

Hebert recorded her first career victory in Friday’s third race aboard Time Heist ($31.40) for trainer Ron Westermann in a 5 ½-furlong sprint for conditioned $12,500 claimers. It was the 12th career mount for Hebert – all this year at Oaklawn – according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Time Heist, under a steady hand ride from Hebert, was a front-running four-length winner.

Herbert on her first winner. (Coady)

“I was really tired,” Hebert, with a laugh, said following training hours Saturday morning at Oaklawn. “I wanted to cry a little bit. It was just really amazing. To think that I’d come that far and I’d finally made it. It was an amazing experience.”

Hebert (pronounced the Cajun French, “A-bear”) grew up around horses on her family’s 21-acre agricultural farm, but her only real connection to the Thoroughbred industry was through OTTBs, beginning about a decade ago. Although Hebert said she first dreamed of becoming a jockey around the age of 9, she had never been to a racetrack or seen a Thoroughbred race until approximately four years ago.

“I got into some ex-racehorses,” Hebert said. “I got them off the track to re-train and I just fell in love with them. I was like, ‘You know what?’ I’ve always wanted to be a jockey and I want to do it.’ I want to go. I want to do it.’ ”

Jumpers and showing horses in 4-H competitions led Hebert to Oklahoma after a friend, a former groom, got the aspiring jockey a job on a farm there in 2017.

Hebert said she began at the bottom, hotwalking and grooming, primarily babies. Adjacent to the farm, Hebert said, was a small training center.

“I crossed the fence and I would go get on Quarter-Horses, like match-racing horses,” Hebert said. “I started galloping those and met my fiancée (Andres Cambray). He taught me how to gallop. About six months into that, he was like, ‘Let’s go to Churchill. Got family there. Let’s go.’ I was like, ‘Let’s go.’ ”

Hebert said she couldn’t find work at Churchill Downs, so she went to Indiana Grand and began transitioning to Thoroughbreds by ponying and galloping horses. Hebert said she began working as an exercise rider for trainer Karl Broberg, the country’s perennial leader in victories, around 2019 at Fair Grounds.

After working for Broberg for approximately a year, Hebert spent another year galloping for trainer Greg Foley. Among the horses Hebert said she got on for Foley were Major Fed, who finished 10th in last year’s Kentucky Derby, and Sconsin, fourth in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint (G1) Nov. 7 at Keeneland.

“It was an amazing experience,” Hebert said, referring to Foley. “Great people.”

Hebert reunited with Broberg for the 2021 Oaklawn meeting – Cambray is an exercise rider for 2020 Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox – and rode her first race March 4.

“I didn’t come here thinking I was going to get my (jockey’s) license,” Hebert said. “I just came here in hopes of just gaining more experience and I was working a bunch of horses. The starter just said, ‘We approve you.’ I was like, ‘OK.’ It was a lot easier than I thought. I didn’t really plan on riding, so it was a really big surprise that I got approved. I was like, ‘OK, well I’m going to take the opportunity and run with it.’ I kind of did.”

Eight of Hebert’s mounts have come for trainer C. Blaine Williams, including her first (Sattersfield). Time Heist was making his first start since Westermann claimed the gelding for $10,000 March 6. Hebert said she had been galloping horses, including Time Heist, for Westermann at a local farm.

“I had a really good feeling about him,” Hebert said. “He’d always gone across the board and we had been working really hard. He’d been doing awesome. That’s what we were hoping.”

Hebert came right back in Friday’s fourth race and finished third aboard the Broberg-trained Secret House after leading for most of the 1 1/16-mile claiming race.

“That was even better,” Hebert said. “It was an amazing experience. Really, really grateful for the opportunities I got yesterday. It was very exciting.”

The 5-1, 95-pound Hebert, who doesn’t have an agent, said she hopes to soon join Cambray at Indiana Grand and continue her work in the afternoon.

“I’m in this for the long haul,” Hebert said. “I really want to try and do the best I can. I want to go as far as I can go as a jockey.”

Hebert is named on three horses next Friday at Oaklawn.

Finish Lines

Three-time Oaklawn training champion Kenny Smith won a 36-way shake, or blind draw, to claim Cave Run out of Saturday’s seventh race for $20,000. Also claimed out of the race for $20,000 was multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Gray Attempt by 2015 Oaklawn training champion Chris Hartman. … Luis Quinonez recorded his 612thcareer Oaklawn victory in Sunday’s second race aboard Redivivus ($6.20) for trainer Ernie Witt II. … Concert Tour, winner of the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) March 13 at Oaklawn, will pass the Kentucky Derby and await the Preakness, according to Churchill Downs. Concert Tour suffered his first career loss with a third-place finish in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 10 at Oaklawn. 

Oaklawn Barn Notes

Top photo of Lindsey Hebert getting her maiden bath. (Coady)

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