Megan Faldovich

Megan Fadlovich is a jockey that has been riding for a little over a year now and I got in touch with her for an interview and here is what she said to my questions:

FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up? Did you come from a big family?

MF: I was born in Minnesota, but I grew up just north of Chicago. I didn't start out coming from a big family, but after my parents separated and remarried I ended up with 3 half brothers and 2 half sisters, and lots of step family.

FOTH: What sort of girl were you growing up? Were you a tomboy like some of the other female jockeys I have interviewed?

MF: I was definitely a tom boy. My favorite pair of jeans was a pair of camo pants I got from an old army store. I'm really happy I grew out of that phase, but I must admit I still love those pants!

FOTH: What did you like to do for fun when you were a young girl and then into your teenage years?

MF: I spent a lot of time with horses. I started working at a local hunter/jumper farm when I was 12 and I spent most of my time there. Otherwise I did a lot of camping and traveling the country by car with my family.

FOTH: Did you follow any sports at all and do you follow any sports at all now of course besides horse racing?

MF: I'm a big Minnesota Vikings fan! I follow it, but not very closely. I love to watch soccer, but I don't have any other sports that I really follow.

FOTH: Where was the first time you saw a live horse race and what did you think of it?

MF: The first time I saw a live horse race, that I can remember, was when I was 18 at the Santa Rosa fair in California. A friend took me to the back side to help me look for a new eventing prospect. They had mule and Arab racing. I loved watching the mules. It seemed like they were always bucking or freezing up or doing something silly and jocks were coming off left and right. I found it funny then, but I don't now!! I learned something very valuable from that fair; I don't think I want to race mules.

FOTH: When did it start to go through your mind that you wanted to become a jockey?

MF: Well, becoming a jockey was never something I thought I could do. I'm about 5'4", and at the time I weighed about 120 so I never thought I would be small enough, or tough enough to ride races. A friend of mine in the polo business was a jockey, and when I came back from California he asked if I was interested in riding race horses. I guess it was then that I began to consider the career.

FOTH: Looking back now, was becoming a jockey harder or easier than you thought it was going to be and what was the hardest thing to do in your mind?

MF: It definitely wasn't easy. I never really had any expectations. I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn't know how hard. There was a lot I had to do. First off, I had to learn how to ride a race horse! I didn't gallop very much before I came to the track, and I only galloped and worked horses for a year before my first race. To me the hardest thing was getting fit. My friend would sit up in the clocking tower every day during the summer meet at Yavapai Downs and yell at me if my irons were too long. It was a pain riding anywhere from 11 to 16 horses with short irons, some of them were good-feeling or had bad habits. In the end it paid off, and I'm glad I listened to the veterans.

FOTH: Take me through some of the steps that you had to take to become a jockey and what was the feeling like when you had that jockey license in your hand?

MF: I remember the first day I got to the track at 5:30am, and my soon-to-be agent took me up to the rail and explaining which poles were which, and that a furlong was 1/8th of a mile, etc etc. I really had no idea about racing horses. While I was learning to gallop the trainer I worked for would send me to the gates with his babies. That was an awesome way to get familiar with the gates. Before I set foot on a track I had always thought the gates were going to be my biggest fear to overcome, but I quickly realized that most horses aren't very bad in the gate, and I haven't been worried about it since. The greatest part of getting my license was thinking of how many people believed in me to get to that point. I had to have the starter approve me, the stewards, and 3 guild reps. If they all thought I could do it then I knew I could! I was ecstatic.

FOTH: Was your family into the idea of you riding for a living or were they worried about you getting hurt?

MF: My family still has no concept of the racing industry. They don't really understand the risk of it because they're never around it. I try and keep them a little bit sheltered of the life. What they don't know won't hurt them.

FOTH: Tell me about your 1st race and were you nervous at all in the jock's room and driving to the track and also the paddock area?

MF: My first race was at a training center in Beaver, Utah. I will never forget it. I was packed into a little car with 3 other people for a 6 hour drive to a track I had never seen to maybe ride a race (maybe not), and then turn around and head home. I got to ride 2 races that day, and it was nothing less than a comedy. The jocks room was about a 20 x 20 room with an open shower and a small commode stall w/ a door. A trainer's wife offered me their travel trailer to change in so I didn't have to be with the boys! My friend JC Estrada helped me with everything! He let me use his saddle, helped me with my goggles, gave me pointers, and answered every question I had. I think he was more excited than I was about the whole thing. The paddock area was interesting. At the training center the jocks have to do their own saddling. Thankfully a friend of ours was there and he tacked mine up for me. I had never rode in jocks pants before, or a jockey saddle, and when they legged me up I almost fell off.

FOTH: Where did you end up finishing and what was the experience like?

MF: I finished last. It was a great experience! I got to follow the pack around, experience the feeling of dirt fiercely kicked in my face, watch how the other riders handled the turns, and realize how unfit I still was. I will never forget that day, and it's still my favorite race riding memory.

FOTH: What tracks have you rode at so far and how long have you been riding?

MF: I rode the last day of Yavapai Downs in '10, the winter meet at Turf Paradise after that, a few days at Rillito Park, the summer meet of Prairie Meadows, and I am now at Suffolk Downs. I have been race riding one year.

FOTH: Do you have any short term or long term goals for yourself?

MF: All in all, I want to be a good rider who knows where she's at on the track, has a good clock, can hit like a boy and finish strong. I think if I can succeed at that, the sky's the limit.

FOTH: Tell me about your 1st win and did you win by a little or by a lot and what was it like going into the winner's circle for the 1st time?

MF: I won by a neck, and got packed out all the way down the stretch. Hitting the winner's circle was amazing! It was the icing on a cake that took a very long time to make.

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

MF: Yeah they got me real good!!! They surprised the heck out of me! Walking back to the room I had to pass the saddling stalls. People were hiding around every corner and just when I thought I was done, here came another bucket of water. Some even came out with baby powder! The photographer got me pictures of the whole fiasco. It was great.

FOTH: I know you have ridden at Prairie Meadows. For those who have never been there, I was there once, tell people what the track is like and area what is it like and what are some things you like to do when you’re not riding and doing race related stuff?

MF: Prairie Meadows is beautiful. The track is accommodating to everyone; trackers & fans alike. It is the fastest drying surface I have ever seen. It can pour for hours, and be almost dry in 2. I loved the night racing. When I was riding at Prairie Meadows I liked to go to the Zoo Brew on Wednesday nights, and I saw quite a few movies there. Adventure Land is a blast, and there are a lot of lakes for swimming and fishing.

FOTH: Are you ever worried about injuries and have you had any serious ones?

MF: I never think about getting hurt. I don't want to jinx myself. If it's going to happen it will happen, but I'm not going to sit and dwell on it. I have never had a serious injury.

FOTH: Did you have to teach yourself how to ride or did you have somebody help you?

MF: I had a bunch of people help me learn to race ride. All of them gave me great advice, and great guidance. Jorge Estrada III, JC Estrada, Vince Guerra, Dennis Collins, Eddie King, Tammi Piermarini, and anyone else in the room who wanted to help. To this day I still talk to those people for advice and help.

FOTH: Do you feel so far you have been treated pretty fair as a jockey?

MF: Oh definitely. I haven't had too many people who weren't willing to give me a shot. Most of the boys in the room are good people, and are more willing to help than anything.

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

MF: I get to the track, gallop and/or work 6 or more horses go to the room and reduce or nap, then race! I'll catch a bite to eat and try to get to bed relatively early, especially nights before racing.

FOTH: If a young girl wanted to become a jockey, what advice would you give her?

MF: If it's what you want, don't let anyone tell you that you can't. Listen to everything anyone has to say and throw out what you don't want, but make sure you listen.

FOTH: Have you ever had any problems with your weight so far and do you think the weights should maybe be lifted up a couple pounds or do you think they are fine where they are?

MF: I don't like tacking below 112, and maintaining that isn't too tough. As a journeyman I would really hope I don't have to tack 112 anymore, but fighting to raise weights isn't really a battle for me right now as a bug.

FOTH: Any funny jockey stories to share?

MF: I raced a lot with the bug boy in Prairie Meadows. In post parade we were always deciding what we were going to race for. Usually we raced for a soda, and half the time we were never on horses that could win so we got a good kick out of having a personal wager.

FOTH: What is the best and worst thing about being a jockey?

MF: For me the best thing about being a jockey is being able to wake up every morning, and go to work doing something I love! This really beats a desk job. It is really disappointing when I think I rode a really good race, and a trainer comes back and yells at me. That's probably the worst thing for me.

FOTH: Any track you have seen on TV that you would love to ride at one day?

MF: Del Mar! Santa Anita! I dream about that downhill turf course. Pamona looks like a great meet. Belmont, Saratoga... Heck if I could I would get a win picture at every track in the world!!

FOTH: Megan I am out of questions. Thumbs up for doing this interview and being part of my website . Any last words the floor is yours.

MF: Thanks for the interview and good luck with the website.

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