Maureen Andrews is a girl I have seen ride over at Mountaineer several times on tv. I made a few phone calls and I got her on the phone for this interesting chat.
FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
MA: I was born in Weymouth, Mass and I was raised in Brockton, Mass.
FOTH: Do you have any brothers or sisters? Are you close with your parents?
MA: I am very close with my parents. I have 4 sisters and one brother.
FOTH: What sort of kid were you growing up?
MA: I was very much a tomboy and actually I was the friendliest in my graduating class. (laughs)
FOTH: What event or events led you to becoming a jockey?
MA: Even since I was 5, I wanted to be a jockey. I was always very athletic, I loved horses, I had ponies as a child. My dad was a police sergeant on the police force and he had race horses on the side, sort of like a weekend trainer type deal. He trained at Suffolk Downs in Boston, Mass. He got me into it. He got me into it very slowly and very negatively. (laughs)
FOTH: Tell us what you can remember about your first race?
MA: It was at Tampa Bay Downs in Florida and the horses name was 'Murina" and it was for John Olivares. It was very exciting and I believe I finished last (laughs) in a field of 10. My whole family was there and I was nervous as nervous can be, but it was fun and something I looked forward to.
FOTH: Tell us about your first win. Did you get creamed with stuff after the race and how was it going into the winner's circle for the first time?
MA: It was at Tampa Bay Downs and I won as they say by the length of the stretch. I was very excited and you really can't explain the feeling. I come up with a guy that said "You get to the wire first" and I was halfway down that stretch thinking "Oh my God I'm gonna get to the wire first." (laughs) As far as getting creamed, Oh absolutely. The jocks room wiped me out. I donít know if you have been to Tampa Bay Downs (sure have; met Mary Doser there in 2000-Chris), but they have several blockades and there was riders everywhere. They just continued on as they took my clothes away, they even got me in the shower. You name it they did it.
FOTH: Did you know that after you won your first race that, that was gonna happen?
MA: I knew something was gonna come, but I didn't know to what extreme cause a lot of the woman riding at the time they could be very comedians is what I guess you could say.
FOTH: How long have you been riding for and how much longer do you plan on riding for?
MA: It's actually a long story, but I started in 1986 and had a son in 1987. I stopped riding and stayed home for 2 years with him before I started back riding with my apprenticeship. I could only ride in one state with my bug and that was at Suffolk Downs. I was allowed to rider for 6 months there cause there was a 5 year rule at the time where you had to win 40 of your races or you could not have your bug anymore. Well, in that time it went from 5 years to 3 years rule, so I was totally taken away from my apprenticeship as I only got to ride 6 months in Boston. I did ok with it, I went to Rockingham and Peter Wasiluk, he has horses at Philadelphia Park in the spring, do you know him?
FOTH: Yes I do. He is cool he rides many, many female riders.
MA: Well, he brought me to Finger Lakes and I did fairly good there. I actually want to ride until I feel I shouldn't be out there. There is a lot of young generation out there now, but I want to keep going for as long as possible. As long as I'm psychically able to. I feel good, I'm healthy. I just want to keep riding till I don't feel comfortable with myself.
FOTH: You ride at Mountaineer now. What other tracks have you ridden at?
MA: Believe it or not I have won races at 16 different tracks at some point. I rode in Chicago, all the Florida tracks, Finger Lakes, Tampa Bay Downs, Rockingham, Suffolk, etc.
FOTH: Ever ride Charles Town?
MA: Never. And I don't want to. I'd probably fall off. That place, no thank you. Saratoga I rode there. Churchill Downs or Keeneland to ride a race is a dream of mine.
FOTH: Take us what you do in a typical day.
MA: I get up at 5:30am and I take my boy to school, go to the track and get there around 6:30am, make a few rounds, get on my first horse at 6:50am, gallop till 11am, do a few errands, go home and have lunch, take a 45 minute nap, pick up my son from school, run more errands, have dinner and now I am in the jock's room talking to you.
FOTH: Have you ever looked at or played the slots at Mountaineer?
MA: I have no interest. I've watched people and I don't understand what is so exciting about it. But I tell ya this place is booming. It is never a day when it is not busy. It's amazing. I don't mind going to watch boxing or a concert here and there, that type of thing, but slots don't interest me at all.
FOTH: Have you ever been recognized outside the track?
MA: Oh absolutely. But a lot don't recognize me, the helmet ya know. They are like "Are you?" and I'm like "Yeah that's me." (laughs)
FOTH: Is it tough getting mounts at Mountaineer with the purses being so good?
MA: You know what? It is getting very tough cause a lot of the riders are coming in with their ship in horses. A lot of the riders are coming. But we are getting in more horsemen which should be ok. My people are pretty much sticking with me and I am very fortunate there. I'm not riding as many as I want, but my quality is ok.
FOTH: What is the biggest race you ever won?
MA: The biggest one I have won was 4 different $50,000 stake races. One was at Sportman's called "The Lady Haly", one at Tampa called "O.B.S." on a horse called "Leave it Be" that really brought me to my stardom. I think I have won 8 stake races over the years.
FOTH: Do you have any goals as a jockey?
MA: Not really. I just want to be able to compete at the level the riders I ride against daily. I want to be competitive in the sport. I have that eagerness. I want respect which is very difficult thing to get from people. I just want to keep winning. I want to be a top 5 rider here at Mountaineer, that is my goal. If I can be a top 5 rider here I'll be happy with myself.
FOTH: What advice would you give to a girl who wants to be a jockey?
MA: I would tell her to go to the oldest trainer you can find that has been in the business a long time and take every bit of advice. That was how I was brought up. I broke babies which I didn't like at the time, but they made me a better rider by getting on those young horses. Listen to what everybody has to say cause at some point your gonna get something out of what everybody tells ya.
FOTH: Do you feel you have a certain riding style?
MA: I really wish I could look better on a horse, but I don't. I try and be as patient as possible and be aggressive when I need to be aggressive. Do I have a style? No, I don't.
FOTH: What are some of the injuries you have had over the years?
MA: Like everybody I broke my collarbone, I broke an arm, ribs, fractured my pelvis, broke an ankle, my worst was here in 1997. I had a compound fracture and it took 18 months to heal. That was my worst nightmare.
FOTH: What do you do when you get away from the track and what is it like riding at Mountaineer?
MA: I tell you in the summer the crowds are wonderful. We get really good crowds on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. As far as away from the track I work out at the gym quite a bit. There are a couple of parks around here. I'll go play putt-putt and I enjoy my son. I spend a lot of time with him and that is about it. I like to stay fit and be comfortable with myself.
FOTH: Any other female riders you like?
MA: Patty Cooksey is #1. I only met her one time, but they tell me we resemble each other a lot. I am her biggest fan I should say. There is a girl that rides up in New England her name is Jill Jellison and she is quite a rider as well.
FOTH: Maureen I would like to thank you for the interview. Any last words to say to wrap this up?
MA: For all the women out there keep working hard because it is up to us to make it better for all of us in the long run and thanks for letting me part of your website.
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