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O’Donnell takes lead in Quarter Horse rider standings


March 1, 2005     E-mail this page to a friend!

By Patrick Kerrison

There's a new Sheriff in Portland's Quarter Horse town, and her name is Kristin O'Donnell.
Three wins in four Quarter Horse starts this last weekend of February has put O'Donnell on top of the Quarter Horse rider standings at Portland Meadows. She has 12 victories. Tim Neal is second with 11 and Twyla Beckner is third with nine.

With the help and leg up from conditioners such as Don Young and Baxter Andruss, O'Donnell's percentages help to tell the story of her success with dashers. Twelve wins in 32 starts equates to a 38 win percentage. That's the highest of any Quarter Horse rider on track. Her pair of seconds and five thirds has her hitting the board 59 percent of the time. That's also the highest of any Quarter Horse rider with at least 20 starts.

"She's one of the best gate riders on this track," said one trainer immediately after scoring in one of her events Saturday.

"I love being in the gate," O'Donnell said. "To sit on a horse, looking at that track in front of me through the bars, knowing we're going to blast out in any second, that is my favorite part of this game. I don't even know how to describe the rush I feel."

O'Donnell picked up a mount with BA Paranoide in Sundays finale for Tim Neal since he was off and her original mount was scratched. That was the mount that put her one up on Neal.
Racing 870 yards, BA Paranoide went straight to the front, was never headed, nor even challenged, and glided home in 48.21, to win by 2 1/4.

This is the first time in O'Donnell's career in which she has led all riders in either breed of standings.

"Mr. Young and Mr. Andruss are two of many trainers that have given me a wonderful opportunity to ride some good horses this year," O'Donnell continued. However, she adds a third element to her trinity of success this season.

"My Catholic faith is of the utmost importance in both my professional and personal life," O'Donnell said. "In a sport like this where there are so many dangerous elements and anyone can get hurt at any time, I turn to my faith to find my strength. Before each race I remember to say a short prayer so we all come back safe and sound; riders and horses."

With 58 days of an 80 day race meet in the books, this meet is far from over and neither Thoroughbred nor Quarter Horse standings are even close to being decided yet. However, it is safe to say this Quarter Horse rider race is going to be one worth keeping an eye on. The Quarter Horse races run at Portland Meadows are contested strictly on Saturdays and Sundays. Live Thoroughbred racing at the Portland oval is conducted on Mondays, Saturdays and Sundays through April 24.