Anna Barrio is a
quarter horse/thoroughbred jockey that rides mostly out on the West Coast. I
recently got her on the phone for this chat:
FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
AB: I was born in North Plates, Nebraska and I grew up in Tucson, Arizona.
FOTH: What sort of girl were you growing up? Were you a tomboy like a lot of the other female jockeys on this site?
AB: Of course. (giggles).
FOTH: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
AB: Yeah, I have 1 brother and 1 sister.
FOTH: What do your parents and your brother and sister think of you being a jockey and have they seen you ride live?
AB: My father was a bull rider and a jockey, you know he had a ranch and he and my mom were not happy when I told them I wanted to be a jockey. After about 4 or 5 years they started being more into it. My brother and sister think it's fun that I am a jockey.
FOTH: When you were growing up did you know that you wanted to be come a jockey or that is something you sort of fell into?
AB: I knew that I was going to do something with the horses because my family was into horses and stuff. It was when I did different jobs apprenticing, show horses and stuff that is when I said I was gonna try the race track. I really just started galloping. I didn't think I was gonna be a jockey and people were saying "hey why don't get your jockey license" and I said I was just galloping. The reason the I started being a jockey was that is was a sure job of being with the horses and go anywhere.
FOTH: How long did you gallop before you made the switch to a jockey?
AB: Like a year in a half.
FOTH: Did you dad teach you to ride at all and did it feel natural getting up on a horse?
AB: My dad is a lot older than my mom and he was a jockey before I was even born. He didn't teach me much about being a jockey, but he taught me how to break horses and stuff. When I started galloping it felt very natural as I was around horses pretty much all my life.
FOTH: Tell us what you can remember about your 1st race?
AB: I remember it like it was yesterday. It was in Alberta Canada at a bush track. I didn't even think I was gonna be a jockey up there neither and I was galloping and a trainer said "your gonna race one of my horses this weekend" I said 'well I'll need a jockey license" and he said don't worry you will have one. The guy owned the track. He gets me a license and I get on this horse, but it wasn't was of his and I got 2nd. I didn't know a thing, I'd know what I was doing at all. It was fun though.
FOTH: What was the name of the track?
AB: It was called "Colt Trot Springs" and it was right outside Alberta, Canada. It is not running anymore. It was a total bush track.
FOTH: Tell us about your 1st win.
AB; It was in Tucson, AZ and the horse's name was "Race War". A good friend of mine that I had known forever gave him to me. It was like a gift. The horse for sure, was a sure winner. The horses did it all. I still to this day, I am thankful to Mr. Jimenez, he was the trainer that gave me that horse to ride because he was a sure winner.
FOTH: What are some of the tracks that you have rode at over the years?
AB: I have ridden at all the bush tracks in Alberta, Canada, Hastings Park, Sunland Park, some quarter horse track in Washington and Turf Paradise and a lot of tracks in Mexico.
FOTH: What is the big difference from saying ridfing a race in Mexico and Turf Paradise?
AB: Yeah. (laughs) In Mexico I was running in match races and they are recognized down there. There is no pari mutuel wagering, but it is regulated by the government. It is only 2 or 3 horses at a time at a really tiny track that most guys never see, as most never see anything like that and it's pretty rough. It's fun, but it's pretty wild and I was the only female down there. It is way different and a whole different ball game.
FOTH: Which do you prefer riding, quarter horses or thoroughbred horses?
AB: I have had a lot of my success and stakes wins on quarter horses, cause I have had more opportunity there. Like anybody that will tell you, it is nice to ride a good race horses.
FOTH: When you rode at Sunland, was that before or after the slot machines?
AB: It was when they were there.
FOTH: Did you ever go into the slot machine area and put a few coins in them. (laughs)
AB: No (laughs)
FOTH: Are you friends with any other female riders?
AB: I am friends with all the girls that I have rode with. I ride a lot of the bush tracks and there is not a lot of girls there and it always nice to have another girl there.
FOTH: What injuries have you had over the years and what was the worst one?
AB: I broke both my arms and some fingers, but the worst one was when I had a quarter horse have an anuisum burst or something and he just died underneath me during the race. He went down like someone shot him and I also when down and we were going like 40 mph and I died! I was dead! I was dead! They had to like revive me like 3 times I guess. My heart stopped and brain too. I still don't remember it. I did break anything and I went back to riding 4 months later.
FOTH: Was there any thoughts of quitting? I am sure your dad wanted you to quit?
AB: Yeah, it's a funny thing cause, I didn't think even for a second of quitting. All I think of "is I can't wait till I get released to ride" I started galloping a month later, but they didn't release me like 4 months later. Since I don't remember the accident, when everybody that saw the accident and me being revived, treated me like a leper when I went back and started galloping. To them I was the craziest person in the world, but I didn't care because to me I treat it like it never happened, because I don't remember it. People were like really strange to me. When I came back to ride, I had something to prove.
FOTH: Do you have any goals for yourself as a jockey?
AB: I have accomplished way more than I ever thought. I always wanted to win one race and have one winner's circle picture. I have surpassed what I thought I could have ya know. My job is doing something I love. I don't have any goals now, but now I'm just thankful I am doing something that I love. To me just going out there and riding I view that as an accomplishment.
FOTH: Is there any tracks you would like to ride at one day that you haven't?
AB: I n my heart I am a quarter horse rider and I was actually the leading quarter horse rider in Arizona a few years ago. I feel it I had to answer the question, it would be some big quarter horse championship race.
FOTH: How much longer would you like to ride for?
AB: I am not really sure. After you have been riding for a while, you really don't make plans for the future because things can change in one day. I'll know when I am ready to stop.
FOTH: What are some hobbies or things you like to do when your not doing horse racing related things?
AB: My big hobby is working out at the gym and I love running. I work out really hard every day, even on the days that I ride because that is my big thing.
FOTH: If some young girl came up to you and wanted to become a jockey, what advice would you give her?
AB: It's pretty cut and dry. Learn all you can and just be true to yourself and keep your integrity. You probably have had girls say about certain guys around the race track thinking they could persuade girls to ride by dating and sleeping with them.
FOTH: Oh yes.
AB: I always say I love to ride, but I have to live with myself. I would just say be true to yourself and not give into people.
FOTH: Do you have a special race or moment that sticks out in your mind?
AB: To me it means everything when I win a race. The 1st horse that I broke and that I got to ride. I mean I have done a lot of that since then, but the very 1st one and to win a race on him was nice. That felt better than winning the Derby would. I did all that work on that horse and for him to win that easily, was special.
FOTH: Oh, I forgot, after you won your 1st race, did they get you with stuff after the race?
AB: You know what I never got that and I am glad too (laughs) I don't participate in that when it happens. I go the other way.
FOTH: Anna, I am all out of questions. Thanks for the interview. Any last words?
AB: I can't think of
anything right now.
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