Kaylia Albright is a jockey that is currently riding up at Penn National and I got hold of her for an interview and this is what she said to me:
FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
KA: I was born in Hershey pa and few up in Jonestown PA.
FOTH: Did you come from a big or small family and what sort of girl were you when you were growing up?
KA: I'm an only child.
FOTH: What did you want to be when you were growing and did you have any love for horses as a young girl?
KA: I was never really quite sure what I wanted to do my senior year of high school I got the idea that I wanted to become a nurse but I never completely followed through with it.
I've always loved horses I was riding before I cud walk. I started youth rodeo at age 7 then worked my way up to joining the Pennsylvania High School rodeo team which any high school student from PA can join. After I graduated I took 2 yrs. off from rodeos them came back with my new horse to run pro rodeo which lasted until I started riding.
FOTH: Now at what point in your life did horses or horse racing start to become part of your life and do you remember seeing your first live horse race and what was it like for you?
KA: Horses have been part of my life forever my whole family is involved. My mom was a great jockey n now trains my grandparents and uncle train as well.
FOTH: Now did you work on any racetrack prior to becoming a jockey like being a hot walker, groom or ex-rider?
KA: When I was like 13 or so I started getting on a few thoroughbreds for my mom she had a track at her farm but I really didn't like it and at the point I really wanted nothing to do with racing. Then after I graduated in 2009 I started breaking babies at the farm with my uncle just to make money then one day he was like we are taking these babies to track. Then from there I galloped for about 3.5 years then started riding.
FOTH: At one point did the idea of becoming a jockey start to enter into your mind? Did you have a lot of support and encouragement from people around you and what did you parents think when you told them you wanted to become a jockey?
KA: I thought about it but never told anyone. People would ask me all tell time if I was going to ride and I told them no because I wasn't 100 percent sure and I wanted it to be a decision I made on my own.
FOTH: What was it like getting up on a horse for the 1st time? Were you nervous or did it feel natural for you? Did anybody help teach you how to ride and looking back now do you feel that made you a better rider and what were some of things you were taught and who taught you?
KA: I was very nervous and it was almost surreal. When I started galloping I didn't like it at all it was a whole different world my uncle would always tell me muscle up. I had a little bit of help but not much I learned a lot just by watching other riders an also listening to details of jockey n trainer conversations.
FOTH: What was the feeling like when you finally got your actual jockey license in your hand and how long did it take you from when you wanted to become one to actually becoming a jockey?
KA: Not really sure, I just kind of let things fall into place.
FOTH: Tell me about your first race. What track was it at and what was it like being your jockey silks for the first time and were you nervous at all? Where did you finish in the race?
KA: Well my first race was an armature race for Norman Pointer on a horse named “Soul Provider” going long on the turf. Must say I was more scared of not knowing what to expect. Then a month later I got my jockeys license and my first real mount was for Kevin Patterson on a horse name “Smokin Pack” at Penn National. I won the race by a nose without a stick. Coolest feeling in the world.
FOTH: Tell me about your first win. What track was that at and what was the horse’s name? Did you win by a lot of was it in a photo and what was it like jogging the horse back to the winner’s circle and getting your picture taken?
KA: Part of this is up top. But truthfully I thought I was beat I wanted to think I won the race but I kept telling myself u got bet u got beat because I didn't want to think I had it and then be disappointed.
FOTH: After the race, did the jockey’s get you good and what did they get you with?
KA: They got me with cold water n sprayed me with the hose then they wouldn't let me in the jock room because my boyfriend Matt Rispoli was trying to hurry n fill a bucket so he could get me n it was a shock in he threw warm water on me.
FOTH: What tracks have you rode at so far in your career?
KA: Penn National, Parx Racing and Laurel Park.
FOTH: Now I know you are riding at Penn National Race Course currently. Are there any other female riders there?
KA: Yes there is one other female rider Erika Struck-Micklos.
FOTH: What do you like to do when you are not doing horse related stuff?
KA: That's a hard one. My whole life revolves around horses pretty much.
FOTH: (funny question) Now recently at Parx you rode and won on a pick-up mount. Who was the stranger that came up to you after the race ha ha?
KA: Lol you completely took me off guard I didn't really know what was going on lol. I was just so excited I had just won on a horse that not only did I pick up but a long shot at that n coming up the rail like I did. I felt like I won that race not just because I was on a horse that should have won the race. It was also exciting because it was my first win at a track other than Penn National.
FOTH: How long would you like to ride for and do you have any personal goals you would like to achieve?
KA: I want to ride as long as time allows. My mains goals are to learn something from every race I ride and do the best I can. Truthfully I want my career to go as far as god will let me and I would like to believe it’s going to take me to the top.
FOTH: Now that you are a jockey, was becoming a jockey easier or harder than you expected and why.
KA: Oh geez I can't even tell you because I had no idea what to expect. But it is a hard lifestyle I do know that. I think the hardest part was the weight I lost 25lbs so I cud ride. Now grantee I did it the healthy way and it probably took about a year to loose.
FOTH: Have your parents ever come out to see you race live and have they ever gone into the winner's circle with you yet?
KA: Yes of course n I actually won on one of my mom’s horses.
FOTH: When you are in the jock's room do you look at the program to try and have a feel for how you hope or think the race you’re riding in will work out?
KA: Yes I like to look at specifics and I also give my horses a chance to tell me where they want to run and where they are comfortable. When the gates open so much changes and anything can happen.
FOTH: Do you think you will be involved in horse racing in one form or another or is when you hang up your riding boots so to speak you will move on to other things?
KA: I will be involved somehow but right now I don't know how I try not to think of that.
FOTH: I am all out of questions. Thumbs up for the interview and any last words the floor is yours.
KA: When you introduced yourself I was caught a bit off guard, but you have a nice website and thanks for the interview.