Apprentice jockey learns her trade the hard way
Horse racing’s image has taken its hits in recent years. Well-publicized breakdowns of horses, overuse of medication, and continued squabbling between various horsemen’s groups, racetracks, etc., have given racing a black eye for many people. Attendance and interest in the sport have declined over the years also.
For all the dark or negative stories, however, there have been several bright spots. I’ll Have Another’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness victories, and the good will cultivated by his connections through the Triple Crown campaign sparked increased interest from the non-racing public. His talented young jockey, Mario Gutierrez, has been a star through the spring, even appearing on ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’.
Another bright spot and possible future star in racing is 21-year-old Aymara Rivero, who plies her trade as an apprentice jockey at Fairmount Park in Collinsville, Illinois.
Rivero, who began riding horses at age 8, notched her first winner last year when she booted home 92-1 shot I’m A Rising Star at Hoosier Park. She has now tallied 50 wins in her fledgling career.
Rivero is the sole female rider at Fairmount, but that hasn’t deterred her. She arrives at Fairmount at 6:30 each morning, exercising horses, visiting with owners and trainers, building relationships. She knows the game and she earns respect.
“”I don’t feel any different, but there’s been times when I’ve been treated differently because I’m a girl,” she said. “Some jockeys treat you as an equal, but some of them really don’t like getting beat by a girl.”