This time last season, Mitchell Murrill was a 20-year-old apprentice jockey who was quickly riding his way out of the weight allowance. After an encouraging 2014-2015 winter meeting at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Murrill brought his tack to Arlington International Racecourse.
“I was second leading rider last year to Jose Valdivia, Jr.,” said Murrill. “I'm looking forward to having a good meet again. I'm trying to ride the best horses I can and go for that leading rider title. Jose is a good rider and gets a lot of business, so I've just got to stay focused and see what we can do.”
On his way to finishing second in the Arlington jockey standings last meet, the young rider graduated from his “bug-boy” status. That didn't slow down business for Murrill, who has showed the skill and experience of a more seasoned rider.
“Down at Fair Grounds this winter I rode 66 winners and I was also second leading rider there to Florent Geroux,” said Murrill. “I don't think [losing the bug] hurt as bad because I've built enough confidence in the trainers that I rode for previously that they'll trust me to ride their horses to the best of my ability. Mike Stidham is my main barn, and he's done a phenomenal job keeping me on most of his horses and giving me a shot. Throughout the Fair Grounds meet I rode about 65% of his horses there, which is a pretty high percent for one jock for him. Hopefully it goes the same way here, and I do well for him again.”
Following a strong winter season in Louisiana, Murrill traveled to Lexington, Kentucky where he received mounts at Keeneland, only adding to his experience and gaining notoriety as a fierce competitor on the track.
“I rode three winners at Keeneland this spring,” continued Murrill. “I set a track record on one of those three going 4½ furlongs on the Eoin Harty-trained Drafted. He's a pretty cool horse. It was a solid little meet, for the experience and the business I have, and for that time. Hopefully the fall meet will be a little better, that's where we will point for after the summer at Arlington.”
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