Chamisa Goodwin is a young apprentice rider currently riding at Phila Park and Penn National. I recently got her on the phone and here is what she said to my questions I posed to her.
FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
CG: I was born in Bagle, MN and I grew up about a half hour away in Bemidji, MN until I was 18 when I moved out East.
FOTH: Do you have any brothers or sisters and what do you parents think about
you being a jockey?
CG: I have one brother and one sister and my parents aren't real thrilled with me being a jockey, but they are being supportive. I think their worries are starting to ease a little bit the longer I stick with it.
FOTH: What sort of girl were you growing up?
CG: I guess I was your play around kid. I grew up on the farm so I also rode horses. I went to school, did stuff with friends, sports and traveled with my dad to the racetrack in the summertime.
FOTH: Did you know at a young age you wanted to be a jockey or was that something
that was the farthest thing from your mind at the time?
CG: I didn't even think about being a jockey until the past couple years of galloping. When we were growing up my brother was the one who was going to be the jockey, but I guess if you hang around the racetrack long enough and your light, it's inevitable that you might try to ride races.
FOTH: When was the 1st time you actually saw a horse race? Was it on TV or
actually at a racetrack you were at?
CG: I can't really remember the 1st time I saw a horse race, I grew up around it, so it was probably live and it was probably at the track my parents took me to.
FOTH: What event or events actually led to you becoming a jockey and how long
did you exercise horses before you became a jockey?
CG: Like I said, I grew up around the racetrack and my dad trained and my brother rides so I had been around the racetrack a long time. I exercised horses for a steady 4 years before I became a jockey. I wanted to get a lot of experience before I started it. I really didn't even think I was gonna ride so I took my time exercising horses before I started.
FOTH: Tell me a bit about your 1st race. Where was it at where did you finish?
Were you nervous at all in the jock's room or in the paddock?
CG: I rode my 1st race at Canturbury Park in Minn, MN in August of 2007. The horse didn't finish anywhere actually it finished last and we were way out of it, so it was good for a 1st race. I wasn't that nervous in the jock's room or going out to the paddock. My brother was in the room with me so he helped me out a lot, told me things to watch out for and how the race was gonna play out as he was in the same race too. I got really nervous when I saw my whole family standing by the paddock as I came out of the jock's room and that is when the butterfly's starting coming, but once I got up on the horse and onto the track it went away a little bit and we broke and the horse took himself back so we were way out of the race the whole time. I got tired and I had not learned how to use my legs yet and the race was a mile, so I got extremely tired, but I got it out of the way.
FOTH: What was it like putting on your jockey silks/colors for the 1st time
and were there any other female riders in the room when you raced that day?
CG: The 1st time I put the silks on I felt like I was putting on a Halloween costume or something, you see it so much and I never imagined I'd actually do it. There was one other female rider in the room and she helped me out and showed me what to do, where to go, and what time to do everything so it wasn't that difficult, it was pretty easy.
FOTH: Tell me about your 1st win. What track was it at and did you win by a
little or a lot? What was it like jogging the horse back to the winner's circle
and getting your picture taken?
CG: I won my 1st race at Penn National on Sept 14th, 2007 I believe. The horse closed and it was in the slop and we came up the rail and split horses, she was a game little filly, she liked being inside and through traffic and stuff. We won by like a 1/2 length. As far as jogging the horse back, it was very exciting, like nothing else I have ever experienced before and I almost started crying and I am not a very emotional type of person, but it was pretty cool, an amazing feeling.
FOTH: Did you get the jockey initiation after the race and what did they get
you with and did you know it was coming?
CG: Yes I got the jockey initiation. I think I got a little lucky as I had just gotten out there and it was the 2nd day I rode there and nobody really knew me, they knew it was my 1st win, but nobody was real comfortable with me yet so I think they went a little easy on me. I think it was 3 buckets of cold water with soap and I knew it was coming and I dodged the 1st bucket, but they got me with the other two.
FOTH: I know your an apprentice, but do you know long you want to ride for
and do you want to continue to ride after your "bug" is over?
CG: I am not sure how long I want to ride for, I definitely want to ride for a while, I like it and just now learning and getting things together, so it is a lot of fun right now. I am not sure if I will ride after my "bug" I'll see how my business is going and I'll guess we will just wait and see.
FOTH: I know you recently got hurt and by the time this is on the website you
will be back riding. Tell me about this injury and how it happened.
CG: Yes, I got hurt January 2, 2007 and I broke my fibula and it was in a race I was riding in and at the top of the lane my horse broke down and I went down with it. I got lucky as I was actually underneath her when another horse ran over me so they ran over her instead of me. I know that doesn't sound very comforting, but I got pretty lucky cause I was in the lead so 9 other horses were in the race so I was lucky I didn't get run over. I was out 4 weeks with a cast and another 4 weeks for it to heal properly. It wasn't that bad, I got some time off in the winter and now I am back in the saddle for the summer.
FOTH: Take us what you go through in a typical day?
CG: I get up around 5:30 am, eat a little breakfast and drink a little coffee. I go to the racetrack and start doing the rounds. I have a little schedule I go through and see the people that are done early, get them out of the way first. When I am finished up in the morning I usually go home for a little bit, walk my dog and have a little breakfast. If I am riding I go up to the room and maybe nap a little bit if I can, go through the form, go through the program of then horses that I am riding that day and then ride and go home for the evening. I also ride Penn National quite a bit so if I am riding there I make the drive up there and do the same thing and it all ends about 11:00 PM at night and then I do it all again the next day.
FOTH: If a young girl came up to you and said she wanted to be a jockey what
advice would you give her?
CG: I would tell her to take her time exercising horses, learn as much as you can and do it for as long as you can and work a lot of different horses and for as many different outfits if you can. Everybody does everything a little different so it is nice to get a lot of base under ya. Get strong as girls have a harder time convincing trainers that we are as strong as the guys, so I would advise her to get as much experience as she can as once you start riding it definitely shows and you can't go backwards once you start.
FOTH: Looking back was becoming a jockey harder or easier than you thought
CG: Looking back I would have to say it was harder than I thought. It is a very physically demanding job and once you get that out of way it is a very mentally demanding job. There is a lot pressure, there is a lot of business that goes into it that you don't realize until your there doing it. I have been around the racetrack since I was a little kid and I thought I knew a lot, but once you get in this position there is a lot to learn and it's hard, but it definitely pays off.
FOTH: Are there any other female athletes or jockeys that you admire?
CG: I admire all the female jockeys. I think we have a little tougher time than the men do. We have to work harder and prove ourselves more. I think. I admire the ones here, Joanne McDaid, Mary Jo Brennan, Maria Charles, Tara Hemmings and Lexi Merson who is in the same boat I am. (lexi is also an apprentice rider-chris) You got to give it to them because they have done it for a while and they are still successful so I admire them. The jockey I admire most would have to be Edgar Prado. I really admire his riding style and his humility, plus I think is a good person and great rider, definitely somebody I look up to.
FOTH: Did you have somebody teach you how to ride or did you learn a lot on
CG: I was lucky I had a lot of help along the way. Like I said before my brother is a rider so he taught me as much as he could. I hadn't been around him a whole lot while I have been learning how to ride, but he has helped me anytime I have had questions. He let me borrow his tack too. My boyfriend used to ride so he helps me out on a daily basis he watches a lot of my races and tells me my mistakes, which is very helpful. A lot of people in the room, the older jockeys, have taken me aside and given me advice. That is nice and I appreciate that. Also the stuff I learned while galloping helps out too. I have been very lucky to have so many teachers.
FOTH: I know you were riding at Penn National and recently came to Phila Park
to ride. Why did you move from Penn to come to Phila?
CG: I came to Phila mostly because there is more money here and the horses are little better quality. I still ride Penn National until, hopefully I can break in here (Phila Park) and not to have to drive as much.
FOTH: How do you prepare for a race? Do you look over the racing form or do
you just listen to what the trainer tells you in the paddock?
CG: I read the program and go through the race myself. I look at the other horses, I look at how my horse likes to run, when he ran his best race and I try to ride the horse like that. I look for the speed horses and ones that like to close and then what type of track it is, whether it is a sloppy or good track. When I go out to the paddock, I listen to what the trainer tells me to do and we go from there.
FOTH: Have you got recognized outside the racetrack yet?
CG: No, I'm just like anybody else out there.
FOTH: What do you do when your away from the track? Do you have any hobbies
or things you like to do?
CG: When I am away from the racetrack a lot of my time in consumed by my little 2 year old daughter and her name is "Aiyana" so between her and work I don't have a lot of extra time. We like to go to the park and the mall as she now at the age where I can take her to the movies and stuff like that. So between her and work I don't have a whole lot of time for anything else.
FOTH: Do you watch your race replays and see what things you did right and
wrong during a race?
CG: Yes I watch ever replay. It's nice cause right after you ride the race and come back and see the replay you can see what you did right and wrong during the race and that is your best learning tool it's extremely helpful if an older rider can watch the race with you and tell you what you did wrong and the things you did right so it's extremely helpful to watch the replays after.
FOTH: Do you plan on pretty much staying at Phila Park to ride and maybe go
out of town to say Monmouth Park on dark days when Phila Park is not running
CG: I will go whatever I have mounts especially on dark days. I do a lot of shipping right now, I have rode at Delaware, Maryland, Charlestown, and of course Penn. When I'm not riding here, yeah, if I have a horse to ride I will definitely will travel out of town.
FOTH: Have you been in the casino area of the racetrack yet and if you haven't
do you plan on seeing it at all or you don't care about such things?
CG: Yes when I was hurt I went into the casino area here at Phila. I like to see what they are doing and how many people around there and see what it is like. It was pretty busy the day I went in there and that is a good thing. I also been to Charlestown and Delaware Park's casino areas. I just like to get an idea see, how things are going cause it does reflect our business.
FOTH: Chamisa I am out of questions. Anything you want to say to wrap this
up and thumbs up for the interview and for being part of the website.
CG: That's about it I think you had all the bases covered Chris and good luck with the website.
Back to our Interview page