By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
SCENE & HEARD: Picture this: Michel Lara, 21 years young and weighing in at 87 pounds, makes her riding debut at Hastings in the sixth race of last Monday’s card. She has drawn the number three post on Alderglory, sandwiched between seasoned jockeys Richard Hamel to her left and Antonio Reyes to her right.
“I don’t know who was more nervous, Michel or me,” Ruben Lara said later. “I was so proud of her. We were both very excited.”
Alderglory, owned by Carl and Christine Ammann and trained by Christine, finished sixth but that hardly harnessed the enthusiasm of Michel’s father. With almost 3,000 starts in his own jockey career, Ruben now lives for the day he and his daughter will race on the same card.
Ruben, 43, came to Hastings Racecourse four years ago after establishing himself as one of the leading riders at Northlands Park. He wasn’t a stranger to these parts after winning the $100,000 Premiers Handicap aboard Killin Me Smalls in the role of an ‘Edmonton invader’ for trainer Ernie Keller in 2015.
Ruben continues to recover from an unfortunate injury he suffered while he was galloping horses at Hastings prior to the start of the 2019 season. “I had two screws placed in my right ankle,” he says. “I’m back galloping now and hope to be racing before this meet ends.”
There have been father/son jockey combinations hit the Hastings scene in the past but no one seems to recall a father/daughter combo.
“My wife and I also raised two boys in Mexico but neither of them showed any interest in horses,” Ruben says. ‘Michel started riding professionally three years ago. She plans to stay here for the rest of the season.”
Neither veterans Hamel nor Reyes won that sixth race Monday, by the way. Enrique Gonzalez went wire-to-wire aboard Speedy Miss, trained by Phil and Sara Hall.