by Bob Gates
I'm not a huge fan of social media. I don't Tweet and couldn't tell you a thing about Instagram. I am on Facebook, and as a guilty pleasure you might catch me watching cute cat videos on YouTube, but that's about it.
This past week I learned via Facebook about Vicki Warhol-Essman's recent riding accident at Arapahoe Park in Colorado. The name Essman may be throwing some of you off because we knew her as Vicki Warhol, daughter of Rhoda and Ted Warhol.
Vicki rode at the Downs from 1979 to 1985, but her riding career spanned more than 30 years and although she took off her boots in 2011 she's never strayed too far from the racetrack. More on Vicki's past, once I bring you up-to-date on her current situation.
In recent years Vicki has worked as an exercise rider, pony person and outrider. A little more than a week ago she was working a horse, on her day off no less, when the horse bolted and went over the outer rail. As a result of the "wreck" Vicki spent a couple of days in intensive care with seven broken ribs and a collapsed lung.
By the way, the horse came out of the incident no worse for wear.
Vicki has now stabilized and at last word she was expected to be out of hospital any day, but she has a long recuperation period ahead. Anyone interested in helping Vicki out can check out the Vicki Warhol-Essman Help Fund at GoFundMe.com.
So who is Vicki Lynn Warhol?
Vicki was a finesse rider with the determination of 20. Her agent, our current race secretary Ray Miller, described her as a nice kid and a tough one! Official Equibase stats have the Minnesota native with 1,648 wins, 1,586 seconds and 1,460 thirds and earnings of $8,602 876 from 12,812 lifetime starts.
In addition to riding at the Downs, the multiple stakes winning jockey rode mostly in the mid-west at places like Canterbury Park, Prairie Meadows, Fonner Park, Grand Island, Hawthorne and Sportsman's Park.
In 1977 Vicki got a taste of what it would be like to make a career out of riding thoroughbreds when she won the Downs' Powder Puff Derby. Two years later she was a spry 17-year-old when she kick-started her career at the Downs.
She didn’t have to wait long to break her maiden. Her first win came aboard her third mount, 22-1 shot Darxos, owned by her Dad Ted and trained by her Mom Rhoda. This was one of the many times when mother and daughter teamed-up for a trip to the winner's circle.
Vicki Warhol Career Stats at Assiniboia Downs
- 1979 - 12 wins
- 1980 - 29 wins
- 1981 - 2 wins
- 1982 - 27 wins
- 1983 - 54 wins
- 1984 - 82 wins
- 1985 - 5 wins
Total ASD Wins: 211
Vicki really hit her stride in 1984. She was easily the most improved rider at Assiniboia Downs that year and really busted her butt. It was a year where only one other jockey had more mounts.
Vicki's 82 wins were good enough for sixth place in the jockey standings, and still stand as the most wins by a female rider in a single season at the Downs. No other female has been able to better Vicki's 82 trips to the winner's circle -- not Reid, Stianson, Baze or Phipps. Some may point to the fact that in 1984 there were 107 race dates to work with, but that's history for you, and Vicki's 82 wins are still tops.
In 2008, 25-year-old Janine Stianson caused a stir when she recorded four wins on opening day in the first four races. Flashback to 1984 when 22-year-old upstart Vicki Lynn Warhol won the first three races on the opening day card. And she wasn't done there. Vicki would add wins in races seven and nine, rounding out her opening day win total to five. No Downs' rider, either sex, has recorded more than five wins on an opening day.
Vicki had more than one multiple-win days in 1984. She scored three four baggers and two hat tricks to go with her five wins on opening day.
Vicki left the Downs in 1985 when Canterbury Park opened. It was closer to home.
This week, with special thanks to social media, we remember Vicki Warhol-Essman's record-setting performance of 1984 and …
pass along best wishes for a speedy recovery!
Reminder: On Friday, June 10 the Downs celebrates its 58th birthday. To help mark the occasion, the second of the five Manitoba Derby All-Star Collector Series cards will be given away, while supplies last. Be sure to get yours.
I will be in the front lobby "Racing Through Time" area with a special historical photo display. Please drop by and take a look. The first race goes to post at 7:30 p.m. See you there!