Jockeys have one of the toughest jobs in racing, and are some of the hardest working men and women in the industry.
Today, we show our appreciation for our jockeys at Arlington on Jockey Appreciation Day.
Although there is no height limit, jockeys are usually short due to the strict weight limits that are required to ride day in and day out.
Some jockeys are not born with the urge to hop on thoroughbreds racehorses back, but at some point realize they are relatively short and could see themselves doing it for a living one day.
Take Jockey Julio Felix for example.
Felix has won over 3,000 races in his career so far, and continues to ride a steady flow of winners year in and year out at Arlington.
However, being a jockey wasn’t always on the top of his list growing up.
“Growing up I was a pretty good baseball player,” Felix said. “I played a lot of baseball and was on good teams. When I turned 16 the next league I was moving up to were full of bigger guys, and I stayed short and small.”
“My best friend was a jockey,” he explained. “I needed to find something I could do so I gave it a shot. That first horse I got on I fell in love with it. So far, being a jockey has worked out pretty well for me.”
Jockeys are usually self-employed, with the only other help for their racetrack business coming from their agent. Becoming a successful jockey requires consistent sacrifice,
“It’s all or nothing, you’re either all in or you’re not in at all,” Felix said on Friday.
“You have to be up at 4 AM, and every day is over a twelve hour work day from morning until after the races. Usually I try to go see all the trainers when I’m here in the morning and try to get as much business for myself as I can.”
Being a jockey is also one of the most competitive areas in horseracing. Not everyone is guaranteed success, which is why winning a race can be so gratifying for those involved. It’s a profession where some never win a single race, and others win thousands of races,
“The best part is winning,” Felix said. “I started off just wanting to win one race. For me it’s just setting a goal and accomplishing that goal. At first, it was one hundred wins, then two hundred, on and on and now, I’m over three thousand. It’s all about winning.”
Lucky for you, you don’t need to win thousands of races to come out and enjoy Jockey Appreciation Day Saturday at Arlington. There will be a live band, The Noize, on the Miller Lite Band Stage as well as jockey goggle giveaways, jockey interviews, and an appreciation presentation. There will also be the chance to win a Day at the Races package as well as $5 craft beer of the month being served all day.
Gates open at 12:00 PM CDT, with first post at 1:25 PM CDT on Saturday.