Jockey Kylee Jordan’s first day at Oaklawn with a 5-pound apprentice weight allowance was memorable for more than the obvious.
Jordan had just crossed the finish line first aboard Simply Beguiled in the seventh race March 24 when the mare unexpectedly darted toward the backstretch off gap galloping back to the winner’s circle and dumped the blonde-haired jockey. Jordan, unscathed, quickly climbed back aboard and had her picture taken for fifth time at the 2021-2022 meeting that began Dec. 3.
There have been a growing number of career firsts in recent weeks for Jordan, who has been pulling double duty in Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Jordan rode four winners for the first time March 21 at Will Rogers Downs and recorded her first stakes victory Monday at Will Rogers in the $55,000 Miranda Diane for Oklahoma-bred female sprinters aboard favored Dicey ($5.20). With 23 victories through the first 10 days of racing at Will Rogers, a casino/Thoroughbred facility about 35 miles northeast of Tulsa, Jordan is already the runaway leader in the standings as she seeks her first career riding title.
“Very good person, very good girl,” Oaklawn-based trainer Ron Moquett said. “I think she’s going to make it in the industry. I’m cheering for her. I’m rooting for her at Will Rogers every day. I’m thinking that with some experience, just with some time, she’s going to be a fun addition to our jockey colony.”
Jordan, who turned 20 April 5, is riding at Oaklawn for the first time this season. In addition to Simply Beguiled ($16.80) for trainer John Ortiz, Jordan’s four other victories at the meet to date were Dec. 5 aboard Dr. Forman ($7.80) for trainer Paul Holthus of Hot Springs, Feb. 13 aboard Kinfolk ($27.20) for Moquett, Feb. 21 aboard Big Base ($144.20) for trainer Larry Frazee and March 12 aboard Southern Pecan ($58.60) for trainer Tim Martin.
“It’s tough here, for sure, but it really is a great experience,” Jordan said. “I’ve learned a whole lot.”
Kinfolk, who rallied in the middle of the track to break his maiden, represented the 900th career Thoroughbred victory for Moquett, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.
“You can’t throw out the ponytails here,” Moquett said, referring to Jordan’s hair style when riding. “These girls with the ponytails come flying, now.”
The daughter of Iowa-based trainer Todd Jordan, Kylee Jordan made her riding debut May 3, 2021, at Will Rogers and recorded her first career winner there a week later. Jordan won four races overall at the 2021 Will Rogers meeting and added 26 more last summer and fall at Prairie Meadows in Iowa to finish 10th in the standings and No. 1 among apprentice riders.
Agent Brian Assmann represented Jordan at Prairie Meadows, but Joe Santos has her book at Oaklawn. Santos, the son of retired Hall of Fame jockey Jose Santos, represents several other Midwest-based riders, notably 2021-2022 Oaklawn leader David Cabrera and Reylu Gutierrez.
“Brian Assmann called me up and said he wasn’t going to be coming,” Santos said. “He had her in Iowa and reached out to me and asked if I would be interested. I watched her replays and called him right back and said, ‘Absolutely.’ It kind of panned out perfect for me. Everyone likes her. She can ride. So, that helps.”
Jordan’s Oaklawn win total could be higher, but she suffered a dislocated shoulder in a Dec. 19 spill and didn’t resume riding until Jan. 28. Jordan has made up for lost time, particularly at Will Rogers, where she has flourished since it opened March 21.
Will Rogers normally races Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday – dark days in March, April and May at Oaklawn – and annually draws a handful of Hot Springs-based horsemen. The venues are separated by approximately 250 miles and Will Rogers’ opening means Jordan has been essentially riding seven days a week since late March.
“I like it, though,” Jordan said. “I like a fast pace. I told my mom a couple of weeks ago, I said, ‘I’m getting bored here. I’m only getting on one or two in the morning and I can’t handle that.’ I like getting on as many as I can.”
Jordan won on four of her six mounts opening day at Will Rogers and was second in another race. Her only off-the-board finish was a fifth aboard favored and Oaklawn-raced That’s What I Say for trainer Lynn Chleborad and owner Gene Jacquot. Chleborad is the winningest female trainer in Oaklawn history.
“I didn’t think it was going to go like that at all,” Jordan said. “Actually, it’s funny because the horse of Lynn Chleborad’s – I rode it here for Gene – that’s the horse I was most excited about. I was excited to go there and ride him.”
Jordan followed with a riding double March 22 and through Tuesday, Day 10 of the scheduled 29-day Will Rogers meeting, had at least one victory each day and eight multi-win days, including another four-bagger April 4.
“She’s super patient and not afraid to come up the rail and they run for her,” Santos said. “Horses come flying at the end for her. That’s all extremely helpful, especially when you’re getting that weight.”
Jordan began the Oaklawn meeting with a 7-pound apprentice weight allowance. She became a 5-pound apprentice late last month, coinciding with her torrid start at Will Rogers. Jordan’s promising beginning at Oaklawn was interrupted after being unseated when her mount, Rowdy Daisy, clipped heels in the upper stretch of the fifth race Dec. 19.
“I slid a little bit and as soon as I sat up, I knew something was wrong with it (shoulder),” Jordan said. “First one (injury). First one. It was going really good at the start. I was rolling. I got a lot of mounts and then I got hurt and everything just slowed completely down. I wasn’t really getting down on myself, but I was just getting frustrated in the mounts that I wanted, or the horses that I really wanted, but it’s been good. I’ve learned a lot here. It’s definitely been a great experience. Some jocks in the room have kind of taken me under their wing. I’ve learned a lot here and glad I came.”
Jordan said she’s working on an extension of her apprenticeship because of the injury and another two-month extension because of academic pursuits (an online college degree in accounting through Purdue University Global). Assmann has her book at Will Rogers and again will represent the jockey this summer at Prairie Meadows.
Jordan’s older sister, Taelyn, is a technician at Oaklawn for veterinarian Kate Hammer and gallops horses.
Kylee Jordan entered Wednesday with 58 victories and $988,332 in purse earnings in her career, according to Equibase.
Oaklawn Park Press Release
Photo: Kinfolk/Coady Photography