Some top female competitors

We’re lucky here in Southern California to be witness to three of the top female performers in the sport — jockey Chantal Sutherland and trainers Kathy Walsh and Carla Gaines.

Sutherland, whom Santa Anita marketing director Allen Gutterman claims could be the best female jockey since Julie Krone, is tied with Michael Baze for 10th in the Santa Anita jockey standings with 12 victories heading into Wednesday’s card. She’s winning at a solid 13 percent clip. Romantically linked to Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith, she hopes to do well enough this meet so she can remain in Southern California and not have to return to ride at Woodbine Park in Toronto where she got her start.

Walsh doesn’t have many starters, but her win percentage is easily one of the best on the circuit each year. So far this meet, she’s saddled eight winners from 29 starters, a 28 percent success rate. She also trains Georgie Boy, one of the top sprinters in the nation who is my early pick to win the Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 7 at Santa Anita. She takes her time with horses and they’re well spotted when they run. She’s one of the best in the business.

Gaines is off to her usual strong start at this Santa Anita meet, heading into today’s action with six wins from 28 starters — a 21 percent win clip. Known primarily for her strong work with Nashoba’s Key, Gaines won with 22 percent of her 193 starters in 2008 despite undergoing surgery and suffering tragedy in her personal life. Two of her main clients are Warren Williamson, one of the true gentlemen in the sport, and John Harris, acting head of the California Horse Racing Board and owner of Harris Farms.

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