Jenna Joubert

I got to know Jenna Joubert pretty well when she was riding at Parx and she went up and left me ha ha. It has been awhile since I did one so I hooked up with her for a new one and here it is:

FOTH: Jenna thanks for doing this 2nd interview and where are you currently riding and tell me a little bit about the track and are there any other female riders or are you the only one?

JJ: I am at Prairie Meadows Racetrack in Des Moines, Iowa. Up until today, May 23rd, I was the only female here!! Lol!!!

 FOTH: Now you rode at Parx Racing (aka Philadelphia Park) back in 2008 as an apprentice. Tell me a little bit about your time there and a certain somebody didn’t bother you for too many thumbs up pics did he?

JJ: I LOVED it out there!! Racing anywhere on the East coast was so much better than here in the Midwest. It is really a lot harder to get the opportunities that I had when I was out in MD, PA, DE, WV, VA. Even though I have been the leading female rider every meet I have been at except for Oaklawn Park this last meet in 2013, I still have less opportunities to race for most trainers and especially any major outfits…. And, No, a certain someone did NOT bother me while at Parx… Who doesn’t like to give thumbs ups?!?

 FOTH: I know you have been involved in a few female jockey challenges. How much are they to do and do you think more track should do an event such as this?

JJ: I have been involved in 2 female jockey challenges and really enjoyed both! I think they are great for racing- fans who are not already aware of the female presence in racing, SHOULD be. And these challenges give recognition to us ladies involved in the sport! I would love to see more tracks do them and it is always fun getting together with other female jocks that I haven’t seen in a while.

FOTH: How much longer do you think you will ride for or that has not even entered your mind yet?

JJ: It hasn’t really entered my mind. As long as I’m still winning and making a good living each year I don’t want to walk away. I LOVE racing, the highs make it all worth it in the long run!!

FOTH: Have you even been recognized outside the racetrack yet?

JJ: Oh yes!! Especially in Hot Springs, AR at Oaklawn Park. It is a huge racing-fan community and jockeys do a lot of charity and PR events so we tend to get recognized when we are out and about. The strangest place I have been recognized was at the check-out at Home Depot.  A middle-aged couple came up to me and asked if I was Jenna Joubert. I said yes, and they told me what big fans of mine they are. It was very flattering!!

FOTH: After a jock wins his/her 1st race the jocks get him/her with soap, water, shaving cream, etc. Have you had the pleasure of doing that yet and if so details please.

JJ: Yes, if it is a female jock I usually do partake! I wait until after they are covered with the usual eggs/water/mustard combo immediately following their victory. I wait until the high of the win and congratulations are over. I wait until they are reliving the moment in their minds while in a hot and steaming shower, and THEN I dump a bucket of ice water into their shower stall and spoil the moment!!! The scream is always worth it and they never expect it that long after the victory!!

FOTH: Is there any tracks you would like to ride at someday but have not up to this point?

JJ: Really, I don’t think so. I have ridden at so many now! Maybe the Fair Grounds just because they say the weather is so great and the turf course is nice!

FOTH: If a young girl came up to you and said she wanted to become a jockey, what advice would you give her?

JJ: Tell her to follow her dreams and never give up! If you want something bad enough, it will come. This business is extremely tough and you have to have the determination to push on when things are rocky! I usually sign my goggles to little girls “Follow your Dreams”….

FOTH: Ever give any thought of being a trainer one day?

JJ: Nope! I feel like I’m at the top of the game as a Jockey! Trainers put in the longest days/nights, have to deal with employees / owners, and they make money when they own their own horses and seem to only “get by” with pay clients. Seems like too long and hard of work for the pay off. That’s why I really respect many of the smaller outfits that can make it in the age of the BIG stables with mostly pay business.

 FOTH: Now that you have been riding a few yrs now, do you feel you have a certain riding style?

JJ: I was pegged as a speed rider when I was out east (riding mostly for PTK LLC who had many speed type horses). Now, I am pegged as an off the pace rider here in the Midwest since many of my horses I ride are virtually void of speed. I think of myself as versatile- can switch it up when I need to! I style is whatever can win the race!!

FOTH: When you are in jock’s room say an hour or so before your 1st mount of the day, do you look over the program and see what your horse likes and dislikes what to do and do you try and plan how you think the race will start out?

JJ: Of course, handicapping is a large part of being a jockey. Not only looking at the style your horse runs, but what the other horses and jockeys may do out there. Then you can try to strategize your race set up in your mind. The thing to remember is that the plan doesn’t always unfold the way you envisioned it! You need to think quickly in the saddle and change up your plan in a moment’s notice! Beyond the form, race replays are so easily accessible that you can watch a horses’ race that maybe you haven’t been on before- that has become very helpful technology!

FOTH: What are some things you like to do when you’re away from the racetrack?

JJ: I love to cook! I grew up with a family that liked cooking and they still do. I am a big time family-girl and try to visit as often as I can. They visit me wherever I am racing and it makes it fun having family at my races. I also like going to “bike nights” with my boyfriend on his Harley. We frequent them a lot in the Des Moines area in the summertime. And, I really enjoy going to sporting events- baseball, football, soccer, minors or majors- all sports are pretty cool when you are in attendance!

FOTH: Is there any sports or sports team that you follow?

JJ: Not really any that I follow throughout the year. Moving around so much I find that I follow whatever team I am nearby that season! LOL! It was fun when I was out East because you have so many teams in centrally located vicinity and you could go to many different events. I went to a lot of Major league and minor league baseball games, a few pro football games, and even one NHL game out there. I go to quite a few minor league Cubs games here in Des Moines in the summer. I try to get to at least one MN Twins game (especially now they have their new stadium) and to a St. Paul Saints game at least once. There is a pro soccer team here in Des Moines I wish I could get to more often but their games always seem to fall on our race nights.

FOTH: Do you have a favorite horse and/or track that you have rode at?

JJ: I love Oaklawn Park. Although it isn’t my biggest money-making meet, the fans are tremendous! It is so much fun to have a fan base and 3rd and 4th generation handicappers that love the sport as much as I do; makes it pretty great to race there!

FOTH: What has been your proudest moment as a jockey so far?

JJ: Probably is still when I won 3 races at 3 different tracks in 3 different states in one day! I am still amazed that I pulled that off!!

FOTH: Do you still remember your 1st win like it was yesterday?

JJ: Yes and no…. I will always remember it, but does it feel like yesterday, no. I can’t believe how far I’ve come since that win!

FOTH: Now lots of tracks now have casinos in them. Have you ever gone in one to do a little gambling and do you think they help or hurt racing in the long run?

JJ: That is hard to say. I think in the long run casinos will probably hurt racing but it is the only short term fix that most tracks have in order to save a dying industry in their states. In Iowa for example, the casino is just that, a casino. If it was up to management, they would get rid of the racing and the horseman all together. But, the casino is what allows us to race for bigger purses and keeps the track open for a long summer meet.

Have I frequented the casinos I race at, yes. I like craps and poker and black jack- games I feel I have some control over. I stay away from the slots- I feel like you just throw money out the window for a slim chance the casino has control over!!

FOTH: Where do you see the sport of horse racing in say 5 yrs. and 10 yrs. from now?

JJ: I hope that we will see bigger fields and that we have seen the last of the small crops of foals. I hope new owners get into the game and that the industry as a whole keeps promoting the good side of racing. I’m sure though that we may see the closure of some of the smaller tracks who are struggling or maybe reduced racing dates for those tracks. I can only hope that racing is still around in ten years!

FOTH: Will another female ever win one of the Triple Crown races?

JJ: I think so; women and or fillies can accomplish ANYTHING!!

FOTH: Looking back, do you feel you as a female; have had to prove yourself that much harder than a male jockey?

JJ: Yes, definitely! And have to continually prove yourself everyday there after! Ask many female jocks and they will tell you that many times we get the “crazy” horses or the ones that “need to be settled,” or the ones that are going to be tried one more time and if  we, as a female rider, can’t improve them, then they will be retired!! We win and do great on the reject-type horses every single day and don’t get the credit for it.

I hate when trainers tell me they have picked out a horse for me because they think it is a “girls” horse. I told a trainer once that I don’t want the “girls” horse; I want the ones the guys are going to ride. He respected me for saying it like it is, gave me one of the guys mounts, and I won multiple races on the colt. I told him after that I can win on the “guys” mounts just as well as a male can!

FOTH: Looking back what are your thoughts of when you were an apprentice rider and was it tough at all making the transition from being an apprentice to a “journeymen” jockey. (a journeyman jockeys means you don’t get anymore weight allowance it starts after 1 yr. after your 5th win and you get it for 1 yr, you go from 10 pounds to 7 after your 1st and then after 35 you get 5 pounds-cf)

JJ: I was super lucky that when I lost the bug, I had a large stable backing me and continued to ride me after losing the bug. If you don’t have someone that still wants to back you through that transition, it can be difficult. Which I think is ridiculous! A lot of people watch you when you become a journeyman to see if you can still win races- it isn’t like we forget how to ride or win!! But some people see it that way and wait for you to start winning before they put you back on their horses after you lose the bug.

FOTH: If you weren’t a jockey, what do you think you would be doing with yourself these days?

JJ: If I wasn’t racing, I would probably go back to school and get a teaching certificate and teach high school economics (that is what I majored in). I would also LOVE to coach volleyball (I did that for 3 years before I started racing). If I didn’t have to work, I would move to Hawaii (Oahu) and live on the beach!! 

FOTH: Jenna any last words and 2 thumbs up for doing this 2nd interview and good luck with everything.

JJ: Thumbs Up!! Keep up the great work with your site- got to love and respect not only the female jocks, but ALL females in this tough business!! Thank you Chris for your dedication!! All the best!!

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