Two young jockeys – Declan Carroll and Virginia Tormey – had notable performances to begin Friday's card at Keeneland.
In the second race, Carroll recorded the first victory of his career when he rode 16-1 choice B Deb's Fortune for owner Hubert Payton and trainer Daniel Pitts. The win aboard the 3-year-old Awesome Patriot filly came in Carroll's eighth mount.
“At the seven-eighths (pole) I thought, 'All right. I think I got this,' ” Carroll said Saturday morning at Churchill Downs. “She was going easy and that is how she likes to run. I had Chris (Landeros on eventual runner-up Cassidy Ave) on my hip, and I was hoping she would keep going and she did.”
After the race, Keeneland riders met Carroll in the Walking Ring as he returned to the Jockeys Quarters, subjecting him to the customary initiation for a first-time winning jockey that included pouring water on him, spraying him with shaving cream, hitting him with eggs and applauding him for his achievement.
Carroll, 19, is the son of David Carroll, assistant to trainer Mark Casse, and Kim Carroll, an exercise rider for the Casse stable.
“It is a dream come true,” he said about winning his first race. “I have known Julien Leparoux since I was 5 years old.”
Making her riding debut in Friday's first race was Virginia Tormey, who finished fourth aboard TOLO Thoroughbreds' Ruthless Child for trainer Tracey Glover.
“It went by so fast,” Tormey said. “I was expecting everything to be normal speed, but everything happens boom, boom, boom. There's dirt in your face and everyone is all around you, but it was very exciting.”
Tormey, 23, grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she took riding lessons and participated in other equine activities that inspired her to become a jockey. While attending college near Camden, South Carolina, Tormey gravitated toward a job with steeplechase specialist Arch Kingsley Jr.
She honed her skills at Keeneland as an exercise rider before gaining her first afternoon mount.
Tormey first became acquainted with Ruthless Child in training sessions.
“I'd gotten on this horse three times in the mornings, so I got to know her a little bit,” she said. “She's always worked really nicely for me so I was excited for this race because she usually gives me a lot.”
Tormey said she plans to remain in Kentucky.
“I will be at Churchill Downs in November and then go to Turfway Park for the winter,” she said. “I still exercise ride in the mornings. Riding races is what I've been working towards and I finally got here, so I'm gonna do this for as long as I can.”
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