Jockey Homeister Leaves Racing to Become Personal Trainer, Fitness Adviser By Jim Freer Jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. is taking what she calls a leave of absence from riding and has started a career as a personal fitness trainer and nutrition adviser.
“This is not a retirement,” said Homeister, who is second to the retired Julie Krone in all-time wins among female jockeys in North America.
Rosemary Homeister Jr.with daughter Victoria Rose In a phone interview this past week, the 43-year-old Homeister said she is not ruling out a return as a jockey. But she emphasized that she feels the timing is right for a career change, partly to cut down on travel so that she can spend more time with her four-year-old daughter Victoria Rose.
For most of the past decade, Homeister has spent winters riding at Tampa Bay Downs and the remainder of the year based in Chicago while riding mostly at Arlington Park and Hawthorne.
Homeister was fourth in victories with 42 during Tampa Bay Downs’s 2014-2015 meet. Officials of the track in Oldsmar had expected that she would ride in its 2015-2016 meet, for which opening day is Saturday Nov. 28. But Homeister recently told The Tampa Bay Downs publicity office that she instead is staying in the Chicago area to work as a personal trainer and launch a fitness and nutritional advice web site.
(Note: The photo on the home page is of Rosemary Homeister Jr. riding at Tampa Bay Downs in April 2015. It was taken by Steven Buckner, our Tampa Bay correspondent and photographer).
She is starting as a personal fitness instructor at Heroic Fitness in Hoffman Estates, Ill., where she already has a base of several clients. Homeister said she is fulfilling “a passion for helping people stay fit and have a healthier lifestyle by improving their diet and nutrition.”
Record as Jockey For 23 years, Homeister has shown a passion and dedication to her work as a jockey. She has 2,784 wins. Krone has 3,704.
“It would take at least five years and maybe ten to catch Julie, but that has never been my focus,” Homeister said. “I want to spend as much time as I can with my daughter and be the best mom that I can be.”
Homeister also has won legions of loyal fans through the combination of her riding skills and outgoing personality. She is a native of Hollywood, Fla., and grew up in that city that is near Calder Casino & Race Course and Gulfstream Park.
Her late father James Homeister and her mother Rosemary Homeister Sr. were both jockeys. Rosemary Sr. is a trainer who races horses at Gulfstream and at the Gulfstream Park West meet now being run at Calder.
Rosemary Jr. began her jockey career in 1992 at Calder. She won 172 races that year and earned the Eclipse Award as champion apprentice jockey.
Calder was her April to December track during the first half of her career. She has won 1,037 races at Calder, putting her among that track’s top ten in all-time wins. She led jockeys in victories at the 1992-1993 Tropical at Calder meet.
Jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. In addition, Homeister led jockeys in victories at Hialeah Park in 2001. That was the most recent year in which Hialeah had thoroughbred racing.
Homeister said her biggest racing thrills included riding in a Kentucky Derby, a Breeders’ Cup race and a Kentucky Oaks. All of those races are Grade 1.
She finished 13th on Supah Blitz in the 2003 Kentucky Derby. As the only female jockey in the race, she was a celebrity in Louisville during the week before the Derby.
“It was an unforgettable experience,” she said. “Everywhere we went, people knew me. Some of stores put up signs that said ‘Go Rosemary.’”
When Homeister and her mother arrived at Churchill Downs on Derby Day they were taken to a reception where they met, among others, Donald Trump and daytime TV star Susan Lucci. “They were as excited as we were excited to meet them,” Homeister said.
Prior to the Kentucky Derby, Homeister at Gulfstream rode Supah Blitz to a fourth place finish in the Grade 1 Florida Derby and a second place finish in the Fountain of Youth which was then a Grade 1 race. Supah Blitz was trained by Manny Tortora, the all-time winning trainer at Calder.
In 2009, Homeister finished second on Cloudy’s Knight in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Santa Anita Park.
This year, she rode Include Betty to a ninth place finish in a field of 14 in the Kentucky Oaks Earlier in 2015, she rode Include Betty to victories in the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and in the Fantasy Stakes (Grade 3) at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.
Homeister retired from riding in late 2004 and became a real estate agent in South Florida. She returned to riding in 2006, when the housing market was in early stages of what would be an epic downturn.
In addition to her real estate license, Homeister has a personal trainer’s certification and is a notary public. She is studying to earn a sports nutritionist certification.
Back-up Plan “I have always had a back-up plan in place,” Homeister said. “As a jockey, you can get hurt any time. I wanted to be ready to make a change if I needed to stop riding.”
Homeister’s injuries from spills in races have included a broken hip and two broken arms She noted that jockeys always need to focus on diet and exercise to keep their weight down.
Like other jockeys, she has needed to work out to maintain a fitness level while recovering from injuries. In addition, Homeister gained 50 pounds during her pregnancy. She learned more first-hand about fitness training and nutrition while losing weight to return to riding in 2013.
Rosemary Homeister Jr. as personal trainer Homeister’s Web sites jockeyrosefitclub.com and jockeyrose.com have information about her work as a fitness instructor and in distributing nutritional products, as well as her guidance about exercise and eating right.
Homeister said she plans to live in the Chicago area for several years and then move to the Tampa Bay area. And while not using the word “retirement,” she is talking as if she has ridden her last race.
“I have loved the fans and the horses, and have had a lot of excitement over 20-plus years,” she said. “I decided it was time to stop. I am thankful that I can walk away on my own terms.”
Homeister’s most recent race ride was in the eighth at Arlington Park in Sept. 26. She rode Spark Kit to a second place finish.
Whether or not that was her last race as a jockey, one thing can be said in certainty: Rosie, it has been a great ride for you and your family, friends and fans. You have made a lasting mark on thoroughbred racing, especially in Florida.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Rosemary Homeister Jr. became part of Kentucky Derby lore 12 years ago when she became just the fifth woman to ride in the race, and now she’s poised to make more Churchill Downs history.
Homeister will ride Include Betty in the $1 million Kentucky Oaks on Friday and become just the third woman ever to ride in both the Derby and Oaks, following Julie Krone and Rosie Napravnik. Homeister has the call on Include Betty in the 141st Oaks at Churchill Downs for owners Brererton Jones and Tim Thornton and trainer Tom Proctor.
“I love it, especially because it looks like I have a really good chance,” Homeister said Monday. “I’m riding for a great trainer and the filly’s at the top of the game right now. I’m so excited.”
With Homeister aboard for all of them, Include Betty has used a sweeping late run to win her last three starts on dirt, including 18-1 upsets in both the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs and the Grade 3 Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park. Between those races came a defeat on turf at Tampa.
Include Betty was expected to be part of a full gate of 3-year-old fillies when entries were taken Tuesday for the 1 1/8-mile filly classic. The 14-horse limit was expected to be invoked for the first time since the points-eligibility system first came into use in 2013.
Homeister, 42, has won more than 2,700 races in a career that began in 1992. She finished 13th in the 2003 Derby aboard Supah Blitz, a 43-1 shot trained by Manny Tortora.
Napravnik, who in 2011 became the sixth woman to ride in the Derby (and went on to ride in it twice more), is the only female rider to have won either the Derby or Oaks. She won the 2012 Oaks aboard Believe You Can for Brereton Jones.
Krone was the first woman to ride the Oaks when she guided Quinpool to a third-place finish behind Dispute in the 1993 running. Besides Krone and Napravnik, Greta Kuntzweiler is the only female jockey to have ridden in the Oaks. She was last of seven aboard Rugula in the 2005 running.
Longshot Include Betty punched her ticket to the Longines Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) with a gutsy neck score in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (gr. III) April 4 at Oaklawn Park (VIDEO). Rallying from last in the field of 11 under Rosemary Homeister Jr., Include Betty edged out Oceanwave and fellow longshot Achiever's Legacy to post the biggest win of her career, ensuring her a spot in the field for $1 million Kentucky Oaks May 1 at Churchill Downs, as the race was worth 100 qualifying points. Super Saks set the pace through a half-mile in :47.91 while being pressed by Lady Tapit and Sweet Opportunity, as Include Betty raced far back in the pack. Entering the far turn, Include Betty was full of run under Homeister, picking off horses one by one, but was forced to go eight wide, hooking up with Achiever's Legacy through the stretch before holding off the late run from Oceanwave. Include Betty's owners, Brereton C. Jones and Timothy C. Thornton, had to wait out a claim of foul from Ramon Vazquez, rider of runner-up Oceanwave. The two brushed each other in deep stretch before Include Betty prevailed by a neck with Achiever's Legacy another neck back in third. The final time for 1 1/16 miles was 1:44.16 on fast track, with Include Betty returning $39.60, $14, and $8.80. Oceanwave paid $4.80 and $4, while Achiever's Legacy returned $7 to show. Include Betty was bred in Kentucky by Jones and Lavin Bloodstock and was purchased at the 2013 Keeneland September yearling sale for $42,000. She is by Include out of Betty's Solutions, by Eltish. Winless in three starts last year, Include Betty broke her maiden at Tampa Bay Downs Jan. 3 in her season debut for trainer Tom Proctor. She became a stakes winner in her next start, when she got up to take the Suncoast Stakes Jan. 31 by a neck before finishing fifth in the Florida Oaks (gr. IIIT) March 7, both at Tampa. Seven prior Fantasy Stakes winners have gone on to capture the Kentucky Oaks with Blind Luck in 2010 the most recent to do it. Include Betty has won three of seven career starts, pushing her earnings up to $303,030. Pangburn got up to finish fourth and was followed out by Sarah Sis, Super Saks, post-time favorite Feathered, Purr, Sweet Opportunity, Lady Tapit, and Harlans Belle.
February 11, 2015 AMONG HOMEISTER’S LEGION OF FANS, ONE MATTERS MOST by Mike Henry
Hampton Inn & Suites Jockey of the Month Rosemary Homeister, Jr., sets a sterling example for her daughter, Victoria Rose.
Rosemary Homeister, Jr., sat cross-legged on the floor of the women’s jockey quarters at Tampa Bay Downs, studying past performance charts while being interviewed following her selection as Hampton Inn & Suites Jockey of the Month.
The question-and-answer session was winding down when a joyful bundle of energy bounded into the room. Homeister gave up all appearances of multitasking, smothering her 3 ½-year-old daughter Victoria Rose with kisses and admiring her new dress.
Just as her own mother – current south Florida trainer and former jockey Rosemary Homeister, Sr. – blazed a path for her to follow, Victoria Rose’s mom wants the youngster to regard life as a series of limitless opportunities for happiness and achievement.
“The joy of my life and the love of my life is Victoria Rose, and that’s why I want to be the best I can be,” Homeister said. “I want to show her that mommy can do everything – and that women can do anything they put their minds to.”
Homeister has forged a career doing just that since earning an Eclipse Award in 1992 as Outstanding Apprentice Jockey. With 2,726 victories, she trails only Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone (3,704) among women riders.
Homeister has won meeting titles at Calder, Hialeah and Colonial in Virginia, and was second-leading jockey twice at Tampa Bay Downs. She became the fifth woman jockey to compete in the Kentucky Derby when she rode Supah Blitz in the 2003 Run for the Roses.
With more than 100 stakes victories, including four Grade II stakes triumphs, Homeister has been at her best when the stakes were highest. She just missed winning the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Marathon at Santa Anita, finishing second by a nose on 9-year-old Cloudy’s Knight.
After a slow start to the current Tampa Bay Downs meeting, Homeister and former agent Steve Elzey decided to reunite.
Elzey has handled bookings for such top riders as Rafael Bejarano, Willie Martinez, Jesus Castanon and David Gall, and he and Homeister felt like they had unfinished business to tend to. They were a team during the 2011-2012 Tampa Bay Downs meeting, when Homeister stopped riding to prepare for the birth of Victoria Rose.
“It took a little time for things to start picking up, but now we’re on a roll,” said Homeister, who has climbed to fifth in the Tampa Bay Downs standings with 19 victories after winning today’s third race on 3-year-old colt Distinctivelygreat, a first-time starter, for breeder-owner Peggy J. Follin and trainer Kathleen O’Connell.
“Steve Elzey is one of the best agents in the country. He and I talk about my business in the mornings and after the races, and I like that because I welcome good, constructive criticism. It makes me a better rider and it helps me to think smarter and correct any mistakes I’m making out there,” Homeister said.
Elzey’s contribution to Homeister’s success is hard to quantify, but he’s not in it for the accolades. He is rejuvenated working with the polished veteran, whose outgoing personality and ability to connect with owners, trainers and fans make her one of racing’s best ambassadors.
“She is just a sweetheart of a person and about as accomplished a rider as there is in the country,” Elzey said. “I’ve never seen anyone give more of their time to the fans. I’ve seen her go from the winner’s circle back to the paddock and stop for three pictures on the way.
“You can’t win every day. I don’t care who you are, you’re going to go through ups and downs in this business all the time,” Elzey said. “But I’m fortunate to know everyone, and we get along good. Rosemary and I seem to bring out the best in each other. And I can tell her just about anything, and like it or not, she listens.”
On Jan. 31 – Festival Preview Day – Homeister enjoyed a day to remember. She kicked things off by winning the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes on the main track on 3-year-old filly Include Betty, rallying from almost 20 lengths behind to reel in Huasca and Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez by a neck.
Include Betty, who is owned by Brereton C. Jones and Timothy C. Thornton and trained by Tom Proctor, paid $39.80 to win.
In the next race, the Grade III, $150,000 Lambholm South Endeavour Stakes on the turf, Homeister dodged early trouble and guided lightly raced 4-year-old filly Lots o’ Lex – the only entrant that had never competed in a stakes – to a clear lead against some of the top turf distaffers in training.
The 76-1 shot settled for a third-place finish, and her connections – including Homeister, owner Lisa Lex and trainer Gerry Aschinger – are optimistic of bringing her back in the Grade III, $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes on Festival Day, March 7.
For good measure that day, Homeister won the 12th and final race, a one-mile turf allowance, on 4-year-old filly Stock Yard Hen for owner Romar LLC and trainer Wayne Mogge.
Homeister’s level of preparation for her race assignments hasn’t changed much since she was an apprentice. “I like to get on my horses in the mornings and get a feel for them, get to know what their quirks are,” she said.
“There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes just getting a horse to a race. We don’t just come out here and jump on a horse,” said Homeister, who worked Include Betty and rode her in her maiden triumph four weeks before the Suncoast.
“Include Betty is a little bitty filly, and she has a specific way she wants to run. She is also really playful, slinging her head around, and you kind of have to leave her alone. She is the kind of horse where you have to get to know her, and she has to get to know you,” Homeister said.
Homeister’s dedicated approach to studying the running styles of her mounts and finding out what works best makes Elzey’s job easier.
“She likes to work. She likes doing homework, and does it well,” Elzey said. “There might be races where we maybe aren’t on the best horse, but she’s going to try to find some way to win.
“You couldn’t ride any better than she is riding right now,” he added.
Perhaps the biggest factor in Homeister’s long-term success is her ability to put the photo-finish loss or the occasional bad ride behind her. “This is a mentally and physically stressful business, and if you don’t learn how to control that and stay positive, it can just tear you apart,” she said.
“As soon as I hit that wire, I thank God for making it around safe. The most important thing is safety, then winning the race. … but then you have to be able to control your emotions and control your mind. And you have to be a smart rider, because you have to be able to control your horse and know when to move and when not to move.”
Homeister probably had more to offer on the subject, but Victoria Rose had arrived with a smile to light up any heart.
The end of the interview, and Homeister’s study of race charts, could wait.
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) - Census figures tell us 24 percent of children live with only their mothers.
In other words, there are many single moms waking up every morning juggling childcare schedules and money-making jobs.
Normally, professional athletes are not placed in this situation. THV 11's Rolly Hoyt introduces us to one mom who is.
The pre-dawn packing of blankets binkies and bottles for a day at day care. This mom has a meeting with her partners as soon as she gets to her office.
Rosemary Homeister Junior is one of the leading female jockeys in history. She won awards as a rookie, she won meet championships in her native Florida, and she's ridden in the Kentucky Derby.
This morning, she has to hustle through the barn area. 4 years ago, Rosie went from top jock to single mom.
But like most top athletes, Homeister is wired differently. Riding is what she knows, and has always known. Her daughter is hungry, and riding pays the bills.
"When I first came back after having a baby I was just...my focus was just being a good mom, but getting food on the table and getting back into acting, riding, winning races, and getting my career back on track," said Homeister.
Her agent Bob Dean has been booking rides for jockeys for 15 years.
"She sells herself more than anything. She's not afraid to go talk to anybody. And will, if she doesn't get done the first time will go after it the second, the third and if it takes four, she's still gonna try," said Dean.
Armed with that charm Homeister makes the rounds, and she has a backup plan: selling cosmetics to wives, friends and even fellow jockeys.
"You always have to have a plan B. I mean everybody's different. Every sport is different. But in this business, you gotta suck it up. Be tough. Get out there. Stop complaining - I don't care and just keep turning left. Keep moving forward and keep turning left," said Homeister.
Jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr gets career win 2,500 May 22, 2012 Jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. notched the 2,500th victory of her career when she guided Center Hill Farm's Eastern Precipice to a 3/4-length win in the 7th race Sunday at Arlington Park. Homeister was joined in the winner's circle by her daughter Victoria Rose, Arlington officials and her fellow riders as a video played saluting the milestone score as well as highlights of her career. “I can't believe it's 2,500 wins,” said an elated Homeister in the winner's circle. “I'm so glad I did it here at Arlington Park – the most beautiful racetrack in the world. I'm blessed to have my daughter Victoria Rose with me and I'm glad to have done it here with so many riders I've known for years and so many riders I'm meeting for the first time this year. The fans here have been awesome.” A 39-year-old native of Hollywood, Florida, Homeister is the second-leading female rider of all time trailing only Julie Krone. Homeister returned to riding last year after giving birth to daughter Victoria Rose and is riding in Chicago for the first time in 2012.
Rosemary Homeister will take break from riding
02/11/2011 11:47AM - written by Marty McGee - DRF.com Rosemary Homeister, second on the all-time wins list among female riders in North America, has gone on maternity leave and will be out for an indefinite period, according to her agent, Steve Elzey.
Currently the third-leading rider at the Tampa Bay Downs meet in Oldsmar, Fla., Homeister lives with fellow jockey Irwin Rosendo. Contacted Friday morning, she said she was “just not up to talking right now.”
Homeister, 38, won the 1992 Eclipse Award for top apprentice and has won more than 2,400 races, trailing only Julie Krone (3,704) on the list of female riders. On Jan. 13, she won with five of her six mounts at Tampa, marking the fifth time she won as many as five in a day.
Elzey said Homeister intends to resume riding “at the appropriate time.” She had hoped to ride this spring on the Kentucky circuit, where she enjoyed success last fall when riding there regularly for the first time.
Rosemary Homeister has First Child
08/23/2011 8:16AM - written by Marty McGee - DRF.com Rosemary Homeister Jr., the second-leading female jockey all-time in North America, had her first child Sunday, giving birth to a daughter, Victoria Rose. Homeister’s boyfriend, fellow jockey Irwin Rosendo, is the baby’s father. Rosendo is currently riding at Parx and Penn National in Pennsylvania. Homeister, 39, abruptly quit riding in early February while among the top jockeys at the Tampa Bay Downs meet when she discovered she was pregnant. She said Tuesday from Tampa through her former agent, Steve Elzey, that she has not made a determination about returning to the racetrack.
“She’s very, very happy about everything,” said Elzey. “She and the baby are doing great; they’re going home (Tuesday). She said she didn’t know whether she’d ever come back to riding or not, and I’m like, ‘If you do, you do.’”
Homeister has ridden 2,438 winners in a career dating to 1992, the year she won the Eclipse Award for top apprentice. Among female riders, her win total is exceeded only by Julie Krone with 3,704.
Homeister finds balance as mom and rider
08/02/2012 12:39PM - written by Marcus Hersh - DRF.com It was early January 2011, and Rosemary Homeister, riding at Tampa Bay Downs, had been feeling increasingly tired and nauseated. She didn’t know exactly why. There had been almost no break between the end of the Churchill Downs fall meet and the start of Tampa Bay, and Homeister had been going hard since arriving in Florida. One night, unable to sleep, thinking she might be coming down with the flu, and wishing very much not to take ill and lose mounts, she fished out a pregnancy test kit, even though pregnancy seemed unlikely. Homeister was 38, and years earlier she’d failed to get pregnant while taking a break from riding to try to start a family. “I was like, I’m probably just getting sick, but let me just take it anyway,” she said. “And within 30 seconds, it said I was pregnant. I just started shaking, trembling. I was so scared.” Nearly 20 years into her career, Homeister had gotten a huge break the previous autumn, having been picked up by a prominent agent, Steve Elzey, to ride at Churchill. The fall meet there had been her first try in Kentucky, and she had fared very well. Homeister figured she was ready to climb even higher in 2011. Getting pregnant – something she’d once desired – hadn’t entered the equation. “I’m a planner, and I had all these plans,” she said. “We’re working hard, we’re succeeding, I’m going to Kentucky to ride Keeneland and Churchill in the spring, and wherever else things might take me.” Things might not have worked out like Homeister planned – but they are working out nonetheless. Homeister’s daughter, Victoria Rose Rosendo Homeister, turns 1 on Aug. 21, and after a struggle with weight and a period of melancholy, Homeister has made it back to the track, reinvigorating her career with a move to Chicago this spring. At Arlington, she has climbed to fourth place in the jockey standings while finding a way to successfully merge work and family. Homeister, who turned 40 on July 5, began riding at 19 and won an Eclipse Award as the leading apprentice of 1992, when she won 172 races. Riding up and down the East Coast, she carved out a very solid niche over the next several years. Homeister’s career surged somewhat in the late 1990’s, and in 2001 she had her best year, winning 226 races and more than $4.3 million in purses. By normal standards her statistics point to a comfortable level of achievement, but as a female rider, Homeister did especially well. In 2009, she won her 2,138th race, overtaking Patti Cooksey to become the second-leading all-time female rider, behind Julie Krone. This was the crowning achievement of the second phase of Homeister’s career: In 2004, her pace of activity and success having considerably slowed, Homeister stepped away from the track. Married then to jockey Jose Ferrer, she’d become equally interested in real estate and the possibility of having children. “I had gotten my real estate license in 2003 while I was riding, and I was at a point where I was a little burned out,” Homeister said. “So I retired and for a year I tried to get pregnant, but I couldn’t and I don’t know why I couldn’t. I went to my doctor and he said, ‘You’re healthy. Maybe it’s your husband?’ It wasn’t him. I wound up separating and getting a divorce a year later, and I was fine with it all. I was like, it if ever happens that I get pregnant, fine; if not, it’s not a big deal. It wasn’t my main focus.” Homeister returned to riding again in 2006 and after a couple of lean years got rolling again. In 2009, she won 204 races with purse earnings of more than $4 million, and she was a nose from capturing the Breeders’ Cup Turf Marathon riding Cloudy’s Knight for trainer Jonathan Sheppard. But it was early in the fall of 2010, an age generally deep along a jockey’s career arc, that Homeister got a big break. Homeister was riding Delaware Park and a couple of nearby tracks when she got a call from Elzey. Historically, the equation has been straightforward: Elzey plus whatever rider he represents in Kentucky equals success. Elzey wanted Homeister for the Churchill Downs fall race meet. Homeister picked up and moved as quickly as she could. Things clicked. At Churchill that autumn Homeister found plenty of business and was on live runners. She won 16 races to finish fourth in the rider standings, her name suddenly mentioned more often than at any point since her Eclipse year. And there she was, six weeks later, struggling to come to terms with the idea that she would have to stop riding and have a baby. “I didn’t tell anyone for about 2 1/2 weeks,” she said. “I was so nauseous, always felt sick, and I was so stressed over it. I was so tired, and I’d wake up every morning crying and crying.” Finally, Homeister broke down and told Elzey what was going on. That was the easy call. The difficult one was to Rosemary Homeister Sr. Homeister said her relationship with her mother often has felt more sister-sister than mother-daughter. Homeister Jr. is the only child of Homeister Sr., a far less successful jockey than her daughter. The elder Homeister raised Rosemary while riding, then training, teaching her to ride Thoroughbreds when Rosemary expressed an interest in becoming a jockey at about 13. The elder Homeister lives vicariously through her daughter’s career, which she managed as closely as possible for a long as she could. “When she got married, I guess, is when I had to give up my rights,” Homeister Sr. said. “I realized she was old enough to make her own decisions. But I watched every race she ever rode, and I was always in the shadows.” Now Homeister had to tell her mother that her career was going on hold just as it was taking off. “She started screaming at me, ‘Are you crazy? What are you thinking?’ ” Homeister Jr. said. “I mean, she went off on me. We didn’t speak for three weeks, and that kind of destroyed me. I really needed her support there.” From the beginning of her pregnancy, Homeister said, she struggled with her emotional well-being. “I’m the most positive person, but I cried every day,” she said. “It wasn’t even a bad pregnancy, but I was so emotional. I felt like I was all over the place. I’m so organized, so into planning – bim, bam, everything in place. But when I was pregnant, I didn’t want to do anything.” At least she had the support of her boyfriend and Victoria Rose’s father, jockey Irwin Rosendo. Rosendo, 32, is a native Venezuelan and has a son back home. He and Homeister met at Calder in 2000 but didn’t form a more intimate bond until almost a decade later. Rosendo had no qualms about bringing a child into the world, but he understood the situation taxed Homeister more heavily. “I always tried to support her, and everything she wanted, I was for her,” Rosendo said. “I just wanted to be there for her.” In the spring, Homeister followed Rosendo to Kentucky, but when his riding business there flagged and he decided to try New York, Homeister packed up and went home to Florida, where she stayed until giving birth. “I gained about 50 pounds during my pregnancy, and I was lost, which is totally not me,” she said. “But I had a great labor, and it was the most awesome two days. When this beautiful little girl just came out of me, I was so in love with her, and as soon as I had her, I was like, ‘I’m back!’ ” During her pregnancy, Homeister figured she’d gained too much weight to ever return to riding, but days after Victoria Rose was born, she hired a personal trainer and started working out. The weight she’d gained began coming off, and early in the fall, Homeister, Rosendo, and their daughter moved to Kentucky to stay at the Mercury Farm of trainer Eric Reed, with whom Homeister had grown close after beginning to ride for him in 2009. “I knew she’d get back to riding,” Reed said. “I knew she’d miss it because she’s so competitive, and I think she was just reaching her peak when she got pregnant. I told her before she had Victoria she’d be riding again before Victoria was crawling.” Homeister said she weighed 145 pounds when she arrived in Kentucky, but she began getting on horses every morning at the farm. By the end of October she had dropped all the way down to riding weight. Last Nov. 9, Reed put Homeister on her first mount since she’d announced her pregnancy. The next day, about 2 1/2 months after she weighed more than 150 pounds and delivered a baby, Homeister rode a winner for him. Homeister won just the one race in Kentucky last fall, but at Tampa’s 2011-12 meeting she won 52, finishing fourth in the standings. As the Tampa meet wound down, Homeister phoned Reed, pondering her next move. When she had ridden the Mid-Atlantic circuit Homeister constantly hustled, sometimes riding one track by day and another by night. “I could do that when I didn’t have a child, and I’d still do it and find a way for it to work, because I love racing, but that’s not what I wanted,” Homeister said. “Eric said, ‘I think the best option for you would be Arlington, and I already got you an agent.’” The agent, Jay Fedor, phoned a couple of days later, and Homeister came to Chicago in April, with one week left in the Hawthorne meet, not knowing more than a handful of horsemen on an unfamiliar circuit. “But that was okay,” she said. “I love change, and I like meeting new people. And Arlington was perfect. Its four days of racing a week and a six-month meet. I don’t have to move and move and move.” Another successful female jockey, Inez Karlsson, stopped riding after the Hawthorne winter-spring meet because of her young child. Karlsson made a post-childbirth comeback last fall and had success early this year, but while she lives near Hawthorne it’s a long commute to Arlington, and Karlsson didn’t want to sacrifice time with her daughter, so she suspended her career this summer. But Homeister is merging riding and mothering. She lives 15 minutes from the track, and while Rosendo spends most of the week riding in Indiana or Minnesota, his mother has been staying with Homeister in Chicago, taking care of the baby when Homeister is away. “I get to work between 5:30 and 6 in the morning, work horses, and then I go home and lay down for an hour with my daughter,” Homeister said. “She won’t take her nap until I get back home. Then I take a shower and come back to work for the races. A lot of times, she’ll come with me to the track on weekends. It’s worked out great.” Through Aug. 1, Homeister had 35 wins at Arlington, trailing only Cisco Torres, James Graham, and Seth Martinez in the local standings despite lacking a true go-to outfit here. Reed has put her on all four of his Arlington winners, and Homeister has booted home five for trainer Christine Janks, but she’s won no more than two races for any other trainer. Some of the success is due to Fedor’s good connections, but Homeister clearly has made a favorable impression. “She’s fearless, and she’s exceptionally smart,” Reed said. “I’ve dealt with so many riders over the years, but I’ve never had one that comes to the barn with notes on the horses she breezes. She takes notes on her cell phone: ‘This horse likes to run in the bridle; this horse doesn’t like you to use the stick.’ She comes in and says, ‘These are the notes I have. What do you want to do?’ She’ll give you feedback after a race like none you’ll ever get.” Homeister said she’s in better shape than ever. She tacks 108 pounds; before she had her daughter she tacked 111 or 112. “I told her I don’t even recognize her on the TV,” Homeister Sr. said. “She always kind of had a bubble butt, and now she doesn’t.” Homeister said she plans to ride at Hawthorne in the fall and Oaklawn in the winter and return to Chicago again next spring. The Kentucky circuit and whatever other points might’ve awaited before Homeister got pregnant are gone, at least for now, but that hasn’t turned out to be a bad thing. “I have my beautiful daughter, a wonderful boyfriend – the end result has been awesome,” Homeister said “It’s better than anything I could have imagined.”
Rosemary Homeister earns Victory No. 2,500
5/20/2012 - written by David Zenner - Churchill Downs communications ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (May 20, 2012) – Jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. notched the 2,500th victory of her career when she guided Center Hill Farm's Eastern Precipice to a 3/4-length win in the 7th racSunday at Arlington Park.Homeister was joined in the winner's circle by her daughter Victoria Rose, Arlington officials and her fellow riders as a video played saluting the milestone score as well as highlights of her career. "I can't believe it's 2,500 wins," said an elated Homeister in the winner's circle. "I'm so glad I did it here at Arlington Park – the most beautiful racetrack in the world. I'm blessed to have my daughter Victoria Rose with me and I'm glad to have done it here with so many riders I've known for years and so many riders I'm meeting for the first time this year. The fans here have been awesome." A 39-year-old native of Hollywood, Florida, Homeister is the second-leading female rider of all time trailing only Julie Krone. Homeister returned to riding last year after giving birth to daughter Victoria Rose and is riding in Chicago for the first time in 2012.