Jockey Virginia Tormey, 23, earned her first career victory Friday when she guided Miss Chuckie H to win the first race at Turfway Park by 8 ½ lengths.
Breaking from post seven, Tormey positioned Miss Chuckie H just outside the leader before taking over on the turn of the 6 ½ furlong test for older fillies and mares. The win came with Tormey's ninth mount.
“You can't beat this feeling,” said Tormey. “It was kind of unreal. I was looking side to side in the stretch to see if anyone was coming. She broke good and as we were coming into the turn the jockey on the leader (Rafael Mojica Jr. on My Lady Dowry) was already asking his horse.”
Born in Durham, N.C., Tormey was introduced to racing by her uncle, whom she describes as a handicapping fanatic. His collection of racing memorabilia and photos and the Triple Crown races on television sparked her early interest, which grew as she rode her own trail horse and participated in local shows. She was still in high school when she set her sights on a career as a jockey.
“I love riding horses. I could ride all day. I figured as a jockey I could get paid to ride,” she said.
Graduating from high school a semester early in 2014, Tormey briefly attended St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, N.C., about an hour from the horse country around Camden, S.C. She began her career that fall, signing on with trainer Arch Kingsley to gallop horses at Camden Training Center and break his youngsters. Tormey next spent a year working for George Weaver and another year with the Christophe Clement stable. She took out her jockey's license in the fall of 2018 and made her debut at Keeneland.
“People told me to take my time, to gallop at least three years before I even thought about taking out my license,” Tormey said. “It was good advice.”
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