With her victory in the fifth race at Tampa Bay Downs Sunday, Kathleen O’Connell surpassed Kim Hammond to become the winningest female trainer in North America. My Eagle Soars (Khozan) became O’Connell’s 2,386th winner when he crossed the line first in the six-furlong maiden claimer.
“It’s just been a wonderful ride,” O’Connell said of her training career. “It’s not only about the destination, it’s the journey getting there.”
O’Connell, who began training on her own in 1981, has twice been the leading trainer at Tampa Bay Downs. She also won a title at Calder. She currently trains about 60 horses between Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park.
She has won nine graded stakes, three from 1997-2000 by Blazing Sword, as well as the 2011 GII Tampa Bay Derby with Watch Me Go; the 2003 GII Bonnie Miss S. with Ivanavinalot; the 2019 GIII Sam F. Davis S. with Well Defined; and back-to-back runnings of the GII Princess Rooney in 2018 and 2019 with Stormy Embrace.
Hammond, who has yet to win a race in 2023 from 16 starts, will have a chance to go back into a tie with O’Connell when she saddles a runner in the fifth race at Turfway Park Friday.