Kristina McManigell

I got in touch with Jockey Kristina McManigell and sent her an email interview and here is what she said to my questions:

FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?

KS: I was born in Mattoon, IL, but I moved around a lot growing up in the southern IL/IN area. After graduating high school I moved to Lexington, KY to go to the North American Racing Academy.

FOTH: Are your parents supportive of you being a jockey?

KS: They didn't like the idea at first, but now that they see how much I enjoy what I do, they are very happy for me. They are big fans now, they watch all of my races on TV.

FOTH: What sort of girl were you growing up?

KS: I was a tomboy I guess, I grew up in the country where there wasn't much else to do but run around outside lol. I grew out of it somewhat, I love to go shopping and all that now lol, but I still really enjoy outdoor activities like kayaking, skiing, camping, hiking.

FOTH: Do you feel you have a certain riding style?

KS: Well, I'm just starting out, so I'm still developing my style...I watch certain riders I admire and try to pick up and use things, and I'll ask other riders here at Tampa a lot for advice, they are all very helpful. I like those speed horses, get them to the front, get them to relax and slow down the pace, and then wait patiently until the right moment to ask them to run.

FOTH: What event or events led to you becoming a jockey?

KS: I grew up about an hour away from Ellis Park, so I would go to the races a lot growing up. I did a little 4-H and trail riding when I was younger, but never really had anything to do with Thoroughbreds until attending Chris McCarron's school.

FOTH: How long did you gallop/exercise horses before you took out your jockey license?

KS: I went to the North American Racing Academy right after high school, and then went on an internship with Todd Pletcher, who I worked for about a year before I started riding races.

FOTH: Have you had any injuries and does that worry you at all in the back of your mind?

KS: No I've been very fortunate. I've had a few close calls, a horse flipped over on me at Saratoga this past summer and I was out from that for a while, but nothing major, I'm very thankful. I don't ever think about it during the race, no. I've had good friends who have been seriously hurt however; when that happens it does cross your mind but unfortunately that's part of it.

FOTH: Looking back, was becoming a jockey harder or easier than you thought?

KS: I guess I didn't realize how hard mentally this sport can be...I had a month where I didn't win one race, and then this past week I've had a winner every day. I've learned you just have to keep your head up no matter what, have confidence in yourself and know that it will pay off eventually.

FOTH: Tell me what you remember about your 1st race? Where was it and where did you finish and were you nervous before the race?

KS: My first race was at Churchill Downs, 1m 1/16 on the dirt. I had Calvin Borel on my inside, Julien Leparoux on my outside. So that was a really neat experience. Chris McCarron was there and my family and friends all came out to watch. We finished last lol but it was a really great experience, although I remember it all happened so fast.

FOTH: Tell me about your 1st win. Did you win by a lot or was it in a photo?

KS: My first win was here at Tampa, Jan. 7th, on a horse called Real Stormy, who I had been galloping every day for the past month leading up to the win. We won by a nose, it was a photo, I wasn't even sure I had won lol.

FOTH: Did the jockeys get you good after the race and did you know it was coming and what was some of the stuff used on you?

KS: Oh yeah they got me good! It was cold that day too, they got me with cold water first, and then got me with baby powder, shaving cream, eggs, and I don't know what all else lol.

FOTH: What tracks have you rode at and is there any track that you have seen on TV and would maybe like to ride at one day?

KS: I've ridden at Churchill, Turfway, and now Tampa. I was working for Todd Pletcher at Saratoga this past summer, I love Saratoga I would love to ride there someday.

FOTH: Tell me a little bit about the track you are riding at now? Can you tell me the name of it and is there any other female riders that ride there?

KS: I'm riding at Tampa now, although the meet is about to end, which is sad because I've learned a lot here and I've become close with a lot of people here. Rosemary Homeister, Jill Jellison, Lucy Herechova, Melanie Pinto. Faith Schorr and Inez Karlson were also here during the beginning of the meet. They are all very helpful.

FOTH: When you were learning how to ride do you learn a lot of it on your own or did you have somebody teach you?

KS: I've been very lucky to have been able to learn from some of the best.Chris McCarron of course he has helped me so much, without him I wouldn't be riding, I didn't really know anything prior to jockey school. Angel Cordero would help me on the equalizer at Saratoga and when working horses in the morning. Rosemary Homeister and many of the other jocks here at Tampa help me everyday with advice on how to improve my form, etc.

FOTH: Do all the jocks where you ride at pretty much get along with each other?

KS: Yea we've got a good group here at Tampa, especially the girls here we all get along really well.

FOTH: Take me through what you do in a typical day?

KS: I get to the track around 6:30, and stay busy until the track closes at 10, working horses and walking around the backside with my agent. Then I go home and study my program, take a nap, and then head to the jocks room around 11:30. After the races usually I'll go home
and relax, watch my replays from the day, or if I'm not too tired go to dinner with friends, go see a movie or something.

FOTH: What are some things you like to do when your not at the racetrack?

KS: On dark days I've been going to the beach, that's the best part about riding here in Florida lol.

FOTH: What are some of your favorite foods that you like to eat?

KS: I've pretty tall so I have to watch what I eat.. I eat a lot of salad but I also really enjoy the seafood down here lol.

FOTH: Do you have any short term or long terms for yourself as a jockey?

KS:M Well I want to win the eclipse award for apprentice, win as many races as I can this summer, that would be my short term goal. I mentioned earlier I would love to ride at Saratoga someday and of course I want to win the Derby someday.

FOTH: Are there any other sports that you like and if so what are they and your favorite teams?

KS: I don't really watch sports to be honest...but I am a UK fan. ;)

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

KS: Go to the North American Racing Academy, get your education if you can. Ask questions, be open to constructive criticism and listen to advice!

FOTH: Do you feel you have been treated pretty fairly as a jockey so far in your career?

KS: For the most part yes, although I have had trainers refuse to ride me because I'm a girl...that's very frustrating.

FOTH: How long would you like to ride for?

KS: As long as I can, I love the best I can be.

FOTH: Kristina I am out of questions and any last words and thumbs up for the interview.

KS: Thanks for the interview Chris

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