One of the 3 tracks we went to on our weekend road trip was Philadelphia Park, where a young apprentice jockey named Sandi Dorr had recently started riding. We both had seen her ride a few times over at Mountaineer Park via the TV. After one of her mounts we asked her if she would like to be part of our web page. After the races were over we sat down on a bench with Sandi and here is what was said.
Sandi Dorr at Philadelphia Park, September,2001
FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
SD: I was born in Massachusetts and I grew up in Maine.
FOTH: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
SD: One older brother.
FOTH: Are you close with your parents?
SD: Yes I am. I just spent 2 weeks visiting them before coming here.
FOTH: You told us you rode the Chicago circuit. Was that also the area where you first went to a race track?
SD: Yes it was. I got my license at Arlington Park (Illinois) and then I rode at Hoosier Park (Indiana) for like a month. I didn't like it so I rode the Hawthorne (Illinois) meet.
FOTH: What did you think of like a race track the first time you walked into one? Did you have any dreams of being a jockey right then and there?
SD: The first track I ever went to was Arlington Park. It is such a beautiful track. It is like this (points across to the Philadelphia track). I galloped for a really good trainer, one of the leading trainers. It was really neat to go out and watch the horses race. I became friends with other jockeys and stuff and that led me into it.
FOTH: What kind of child were you growing up? Were you more of a tomboy or more like a wild child?
SD: I ran with the boys. I was very sporty and played baseball a lot. I was definitely a tomboy.
FOTH: What did you want to be when you were growing up before you decided to become a jockey?
SD: Well ever since I was 5 I have been riding so I used to do 3 day eventing. Jumping and stuff. I did that up to 2 years ago and I really got into that, but just lost interest.
FOTH: Do you think all the previous stuff you mentioned has better prepared you to becoming a jockey?
SD: Yes I think so. Also before I was a jockey I broke all the babies and yearlings. Like there is a farm Ed Allard owns and I broke half of his horses that he has in Florida at the breeding farms. So I started from the very bottom and climbed my way so that was pretty neat.
FOTH: Describe what it is like getting up on a horse and what was the difference say between a thoroughbred horse and a jumping horse.
SD: All my jumpers were thoroughbreds. (little laugh) I donít think I got on anything that wasn't. I just like them cause they have so much heart. They are so much more exciting. I hate getting up on lazy horses.
FOTH: How long did you gallop/exersise horses before you got your license?
SD: For about 6 years I would say.
FOTH: What stuff were you taught as far as riding goes.
SD: Well my fiance was a jockey for 15 years so I got lucky and he helped me out a lot.
FOTH: What was his name?
SD: Paul Bender. He rode at Mountaineer. He told me keep the horse straight, your head up, use your stick a lot.
FOTH: Have you found being a jockey is a lot harder than you thought it would be?
SD: I think it harder for a woman. I think the hardest part is the mental part. Trainers sometimes will be your best friend one day and the next day your enemy. Physically it is difficult too. I think being a girl, people think we are weaker, can't send a horse as good.
FOTH: Have you ever been told by a trainer that youíre not riding this horse because your a female?
SD: They have said "We don't ride girls."
FOTH: What were your feelings when you had your first jockey license in your hand?
SD: Excited. I was very excited.
FOTH: Where was the first race you rode in?
SD: It was at Arlington Park. They have a very beautiful paddock area. Flowers and all that stuff outdoors. There is flowers all down the path to the jock's room.
FOTH: Were you nervous at all?
SD: Yes very.
FOTH: Do you remember where you finished?
SD: I got beat about 50 lengths. (we all laugh) It was my boyfriends horse. I was just trying to get some experience and she didn't belong in the race at all. She was way over her head. I was in the race for the first 8th of a mile then I got left in the dust.
FOTH: After getting that race over as the next time a bit easier?
SD: Well I was never nervous it was more exciting.
FOTH: After you won your first race did they get you after the race?
SD: I was warned and I really wasn't thinking about it. They just tackled me and got me with mud, water, shaving cream and God knows what else.
FOTH: Did you win easy or was it close?
SD: I won by a nose. It was an allowance race at Mountaineer Park.
FOTH: What was it like going into the winner's circle.
SD: Really nice. Really exciting.
FOTH: Have your parents ever seen you ride?
SD: My mom flew from Maine to Arlington to see my first race ever. They are gonna come down here in about a month to see me race here.
FOTH: Have you ridden anywhere else besides the tracks you have mentioned?
SD: The only other is Fairmount Park (Illinois)
FOTH: How would you say this track (Philadelphia Park) stacks up against the other tracks you have rode at?
SD: I like it here cause I like the people. I can deal with the people here. They donít seem to be as snobby and they seem to be much more open-minded and give me a shot. They donít seem to abuse me like at Mountaineer. I love it here it is a beautiful track.
FOTH: Speaking of Mountaineer, did you ever go check out the slot machines they have there?
SD: No I stayed out of there.
FOTH: Do you plan on trying to go to maybe Delaware or Monmouth Park maybe next year?
SD: I'll see where it takes me. I have only been here a week so we will see how it goes and take it from there.
FOTH: Do you think you have a certain riding style and how do you prepare for a race?
SD: I always read the racing form several times. If you have a horse that particularly likes to ride on the front end then that is where you want him to go. Granted sometimes you get slammed coming out of the gate and your shot might be over right out of the gate. (we all laugh)
FOTH: What are some other jockeys you admire.
SD: Jockey at Mountaineer I really enjoyed was Maureen Andrews. She is a very nice person. It was only me and her in the female jock's room and she gave me some pointers and helped me out. Chris Emigh over at Arlington Park he helped me get started and gave me some clothes.
FOTH: What would you like to accomplish as a jockey?
SD: I would like to be up for an Eclipse award. I would like to be top leading rider as well.
FOTH: Anything you want to add?
SD: No I think we covered about everything.
FOTH: Well we hope to see you in the winner's circle here at Philadelphia Park quite often.
SD: Me too
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