Jockey interview Carly Hughes


Carly Hughes is currently riding out at Hawthorne and here is her story...

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

CH: I was born in Southern California. Grew up in many cities down there but I would consider “home” Carlsbad, CA.

FOTH: What sort of girl were you growing up?

CH: I was always a Tom boy. I never liked girly things. I played some sports for fun like baseball and did gymnastics but I always preferred to go be with my horses. I was the “horse crazy girl” in school lol. 

FOTH: What did you want to be when you were growing up?

CH: I always wanted to be a jockey. Ever since I was little I’d go to Del Mar and watch all the horses run and I always thought it would be so cool to be able to ride them

FOTH: Now at the time did you have any idea how to make it happen?

CH: No clue! My family isn’t into horses let alone racing so when I was 15 I started looking for a trainer who would take me under their wing and teach me about the track and how to gallop. Luckily, Kimberly Marrs was kind enough to let me come work for her and get my first taste of the race track. After that I was hooked.

FOTH: So was getting up on horses early on a natural feeling for you?

CH: Most definitely. I always felt most comfortable on a horse. It came pretty naturally.

FOTH: So now how long did you get up on horses for before you took out your jockey license?

CH: I galloped horses for about 5 years before I ended up taking out my jocks license.

FOTH: What did your parents think of you deciding to become a jockey?

CH: They thought I was crazy and was wasting my time. They always wanted me to be a vet or “get a real job”. But they’re a lot more supportive now and are happy that I’m happy.

FOTH: So this is my first time asking this ha ha. Take me through a typical day for you back then?

CH: Back when I first started galloping?


CH: Well I worked a couple other jobs while I was learning to gallop since I freelanced mostly. So I would usually work my night shift job at the vet clinic (Park Equine) from 7pm to 7am 3-4 days a week. As soon as I got off of work I would drive to the track and freelance gallop as many horses as I could get. Then I would take a nap before I would go to the farm to help with some show horses 3 days a week. Sometimes I got lucky and they wouldn’t overlap but some days they would so I’d work absurd hours. I didn’t mind though. I would much rather stay busy and work than sit at home.

FOTH: So was the goal from the beginning that you were gonna be a jockey and not a vet?

CH: Yes. I always wanted to be a jockey. I think veterinary medicine is wonderful but I knew I would enjoy the adrenaline rush and traveling of being a jockey much better.

FOTH: So how did it feel to finally have your jockey license in your hand?

CH: It feels absolutely incredible! Like a dream come true. There’s truly nothing like it

FOTH: So tell me about your first race. Where was it at? Were you nervous at all?

CH: My first race was at Lone Star Park last August. I rode a filly named Ms. Red Rockette. We went 7 furlongs on the dirt. I was a little bit nervous but I was super excited. It was such an adrenaline rush. It was the best feeling in the world.

FOTH: Where did you finish and were you glad to get that first race out of the way?

CH: I believe 5th? We made the lead at one point In the turn and she got tired down the lane. I was just itching to get on another one after that.

FOTH: Now tell me about your 1st win. What track was that at? Did you win by a lot or in a photo?

CH: My first win was on a horse named Hensley’s Run. She was a first time starter at Remington Park. We won by 3 lengths. I just remember thinking “someone is gonna catch me. They’re definitely gonna catch me.” I couldn’t believe I won either until all the gate guys on the catch truck started hollering and cheering for me when we were pulling up. I had a feeling she was gonna run big. The only time I worked her before the race we went 3/8 out of the gates and she came barreling out of there like a quarter horse. I told Doug, the assistant trainer, “she’s gonna win.” Sure enough she did.

FOTH: What was it like jogging the horse back to the winner's circle?

CH: I was filled with adrenaline! I couldn’t stop smiling. My filly was a little nervous going back since it was her first time running so she got a little scared going back to the crowd haha

FOTH: Did the jockeys get you good after the race and did you know it was coming?

CH: Haha a couple of them did! It was the first race of the day so not a lot of jockeys had shown up yet. I had a feeling it was coming ha ha.

FOTH: So what tracks have you rode at so far?

CH: So far I’ve ridden as a jockey at Remington Park, Sam Houston Race Park and Lone Star Park.

FOTH: Tell me about Remington Park a bit. Do they get any type of crowds for live racing?

CH: I was only at Remington their past thoroughbred meet and due to COVID restrictions the crowd numbers were pretty bare. I think this meet should be busier.

FOTH: What about Sam Houston?

CH: Sam Houston got pretty busy when they started opening up a bit more and not requiring masks throughout your whole visit. Lone Star is so far the busiest I’ve seen in a while

FOTH: So now eventually would you like to start riding at other tracks?

CH: I would eventually like to end up on the Kentucky/fairgrounds circuit. Or maybe even Florida.

FOTH: What other riders have you rode with at the tracks you have been at?

CH: I’ve ridden with Sophie Doyle, Sasha Risenhoover, Bethany Taylor, Lori Biehler, Ry Eikleberry, Lindey Wade, Ramon Vasquez, Luis Quinones, Stewart Elliott, Richard Eramia, Leandro Goncalves, David Cabrera, Reylu Gutierrez, Lane Luzzi, Weston Hamilton, Iram Diego, Ernesto Valdez-Jimenez, Danny Sorrenson, Ezequiel Lara, Ty Kennedy, Alfredo comtreras, Benny Landeros, Anardis Rodriguez, Kody Kellenberger, Shane Laviolette, Floyd Wethey, Carlos Diaz, Orlando Mojica, Garrett steinberg, Roberto morales, Alfredo Triana, Ken Tohill, and many many more. Haha those are just the main guys who stay on this circuit.

FOTH: So what is a typical race day like for you?

CH: Usually I go work horses in the morning, then eat something and take a nap before the races.

FOTH: What are some things you like to do when your away from the track?

CH: I enjoy spending time with my dogs. Going on mini vacations and hanging out at the lake.

FOTH: Do you feel horse racing tracks need casinos to survive?

CH: Honestly no but I think the tracks that do have casinos have more betting but at the same time I also feel like the tracks with casinos care more about the casino than the horsemen

FOTH: Are jockeys as a whole under appreciated in the sport?

CH: I think sometimes.

FOTH: Thoughts on the whip rules at some tracks?

CH: I think it’s imperative for jockeys to have access to their whip when needed. I think to limit excess whipping is one thing but for certain tracks to ban whipping all together is simply ridiculous.

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

CH: A bit harder than what I thought initially.

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

CH: I would tell her to be careful who she trusts and who says they’ll help her. Some people are very helpful and some people will take advantage of you.

FOTH: For those who don't know what exactly is a jockey agent and do you have one?

CH: A jockey agent is someone who goes around and talks to trainers and tries to hustle you mounts. They also handle entering your horses and dealing with trainers if they’re mad at you. I have the best agent on the backside! LOL

FOTH: Favorite track you have rode at and why?

CH: In general? Or just as a jockey?

FOTH: Both.

CH: Keeneland  is super cool to ride at. But as a jockey I’d say Lone Star is the best of the three tracks I’ve ridden at.

FOTH: Do you think even after you retire at some point you will still be involved in horse racing?

CH: Oh most definitely

FOTH: Do you have any personal goals for yourself?

CH: My personal goals include further expanding my knowledge in the horse racing industry along with my riding skills. Also, I eventually would like to be the top jockey in the country and ride the best horses.

FOTH: Do you study your rides much after you have rode a particular race?

CH: I study every race that I ride. I like to watch the other races as well to see what some of the older good riders do but I love to analyze each of my races and see how I can improve a horse. It helps me understand the horse and possibly figure out different ways to help them improve. Even when I win I try to see what I could’ve done better.

FOTH: You have rode at several racetracks. What is the biggest difference you have noticed?

CH: I think the class of trainers and class of horses. There’s a huge difference with how people handle things on the backside.

FOTH: Do you feel you improve with every race?

CH: I would like to think so ha ha. 

FOTH: The thought of injury ever creep up in your mind?

CH: Every now and then but I try to keep it out of my head.

FOTH: Carly, thumbs up for doing this interview. Any last words to wrap it up? 

CH: Thanks for the interview and I like your website and keep on kissing those female feet footboy, I loved seeing you kiss Maria's lol.