Michele Harris, whose career as a jockey and trainer at Finger Lakes Racetrack spanned four decades, died of cancer last month at the age of 61.
According to her family, Harris demonstrated a propensity for riding at an early age and spent all her time on the backstretch after high school graduation.
“One of the things that made Michele unique was her unnatural ability to ride,” said John Nunn, Harris' brother. “From a very young age she was a true natural. The lessons she acquired were few and far between — she probably had 10 riding lessons in her whole life.”
By the time Harris began riding races in the 1970s, there was no space in the jockeys' quarters for women; she had to change in the women's restroom. She didn't let the other riders intimidate her, however, riding 362 winners from 3,217 starts, including several stakes wins aboard Jack Betta Be rite and Mercedes Won.
Harris is survived by her three children.
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