Trainer Gets First Career Win On Opening Day At Golden Gate Fields

Trainer Gets First Career Win On Opening Day At Golden Gate Fields

     Golden Gate Fields kicked off its 2011 summer meeting Friday and nobody enjoyed the opener more than Natalie Houle, who earned her first training victory when Hey Maria charged down the middle of the track to capture the fourth race.

     Hey Maria, ridden by Cristobal Herrera, ran down She’s All Yours and 3-to-2 favorite Just Tappin It to win the six-furlong race for fillies and mares by three-quarters of a length.  Hey Maria paid $9.20.

     Hey Maria was Houle’s fifth career starter and the trainer felt good about her charge’s chances after watching the 3-year-old filly warm up.

     “She was very calm today and that was a very good sign,” said Houle.  “She was really focused and not all over the place.”

     Houle, who has a two-horse stable and lives in Pleasanton, works full-time as a bartender at the Marriott in Fremont.  She guaranteed she’d be slinging drinks with a smile Friday night.

     “I’m really happy,” said Houle.  “I’m going to be running on adrenaline all night.”

     Houle, 30, was born and raised in Arcadia and worked with show horses in her youth.  She moved to Pennsylvania with her mother in 2002 and found employment at Penn National Race Course working for trainers Tim Shea and Tim Kreiser.  Houle returned to California in 2009 and settled in the Bay Area.
     Getting up early to tend to horses isn’t always easy after a late night of bartending but Houle said a day like Friday makes it all worth it.

     “It can be tough but it’s starting to payoff,” said Houle.  “Plus, my boyfriend (former jockey Carlos Nieto) helps me out a lot and will get the horses ready if I’m running late.”

     Houle’s runners have finished in the money 80 percent of the time as her five starters have collected a win, a second and two thirds.  

     Golden Gate Fields’ 22-day summer season runs through Sunday, Oct. 2.  Racing is conducted on a Friday-through-Sunday schedule and post time is 12:45 p.m. each day.