Retired Jockeys share insights on the profession in latest Thoroughbred Owner Conference Series Session

August 6, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky.—Former track announcer Tom Durkin moderated a spirited panel of retired jockeys as part of the Thoroughbred Owner Conference series’ sixth session, which was held Tuesday, August 3. The conference series is hosted by The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association and presented by Bessemer Trust, Dean Dorton Equine, Stoll Keenon Ogden, and Stonestreet Farm.

Tuesday’s session was sponsored by Airdrie Stud, Starlight Racing, and The Green Group. The panelists were Donna Barton Brothers, Chris McCarron, and Gary Stevens.

All three panelists acknowledged the physical and mental toll of being a professional jockey. Besides the inherent risk of injury, there are also the struggles associated with maintaining the proper weight as well as being able to accept frequent rejection.

“We put more pressure on ourselves than anyone person we have ever dealt with [has],” Stevens said.

Despite the challenges, the three panelists mentioned the reward of the human and equine relationships they were able to develop and the traveling opportunities they were afforded as a result of their careers. The group also delved into riders’ relationships with owners and trainers and the process of securing mounts. They all stated that the key to riding good horses was developing positive relationships with trainers.

“For the most part, owners trust the trainer’s judgment,” Brothers said.

The final topic of the panel was the whip rule debate in different jurisdictions. McCarron was adamant on the importance of having the riding crop available for safety, a sentiment shared by Brothers and Stevens. McCarron also promoted the work of the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, which provides financial assistance to jockeys who have suffered catastrophic on-track injuries.

The next session of the series, “Racing Clubs,” will be held on Tuesday, September 7, at 2 p.m. ET. It is sponsored by MyRacehorse, the Daily Racing Form, and Mersant International Ltd. Panelists are Michael Behrens, MyRacehorse; Mary Cage, WinStar Stablemates; and Gary Palmisano, Churchill Downs Racing Club.

All sessions will be recorded and made available to registered guests. There is no registration fee for the live or recorded virtual conference series, but registration is required.

In addition to the virtual series, OwnerView will be hosting an in-person Thoroughbred Owner Conference in Del Mar, California, on November 3, to coincide with the Breeders’ Cup World Championships. Registration information is available on the OwnerView website. Registration information and schedules for both the in-person and virtual conference are available at ownerview.com/event/conference or by contacting Gary Falter at gfalter@jockeyclub.com.

OwnerView is a joint effort spearheaded by The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association to encourage ownership of Thoroughbreds and provide accurate information on aspects of ownership such as trainers, public racing syndicates, the process of purchasing and owning a Thoroughbred, racehorse retirement, and owner licensing.

The need for a central resource to encourage Thoroughbred ownership was identified in the comprehensive economic study of the sport that was commissioned by The Jockey Club and conducted by McKinsey & Company in 2011. The OwnerView site was launched in May 2012.

Jockey Club Press Release

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