Elizabeth Ann Thurman
Elizabeth Ann Thurman has been a jockey since 2018 now and here is her story so far:
FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
ET: I was born in Belleville, IL and I grew up in Belleville on a horse farm.
FOTH: Did you come from a big or small family?
ET: I would say an average family. It was always my mom, dad, brother, sister, and I. Unless you would count our animals...in that case it would be considered our family to be big.
FOTH: Were you into horses at an early age or did that come later on?
ET: Early age. I was raised in the sport.
FOTH: At what age did you know you wanted to be a jockey?
ET: As long as I can remember. I used to dress up as a jockey every Halloween.
FOTH: Did you live near any racetracks? What was the feeling like the first time you saw a horse race?
ET: Yes, I grew up 20 minutes away from Fairmount Park. The feeling I got watching my first horse race was love. I was amazed by the horses and the jockeys. I love hearing the horse’s feet hit the ground.
FOTH: So at what point did you start to get serious about becoming a rider and did you know what you needed to do to become one?
ET: When I finished high school I became more serious about race riding. I been galloping for 3 years before I graduated high school, and knew Becoming a jockey was what I wanted to do. But I took my time, I traveled a little, to different tracks to get more experience. I wanted to be ready not just psychically but mentally too. And I am very happy I waited to start riding races. Yes, I knew the process of what it took to become a rider.
FOTH: Was there one person who really taught you how to ride or was there several?
FOTH: Looking back what was the hardest thing?
ET: The hardest thing for me mentally was the starting gates. It took me a while to finally feel comfortable in the gates and with the horse. But now it actually my favorite thing.
FOTH: So tell me what was the feeling of finally getting your jockey license
ET: Oh gosh, I had so many feelings going on in my head and heart when I finally got my jockey license. I couldn’t believe that it had finally happened, that my dream came true. I felt very proud of myself for all the hard work and the struggles I had gone through to get my license. I sometimes still feel like I am not a jockey yet, that it is still all a dream. But the overall best feeling I think was joy. I was just happy and couldn’t believe it finally has happened.
FOTH: Now tell me all about your first race, where was it? Were you nervous much in the jocks room?
ET: My first race was May 22 2018 at Fairmount Park. I rode a filly named Josie jewel. I was nervous wreck all up to the entering the starting gates. Once I got into the gates all my worries went away. I thought of it as just another morning workout but with fancy clothes on and more horses and riders.
FOTH: Now what did your parents think of all this and have they seen you ride?
ET: My parents both support me 110%. I grew up in this sport because of my parents. They knew this is what I wanted to do since day one. They were both there when I rode my first race and when I won my first race. If they could be at every race I ride they would be. But if they can’t be there, they are both watching me on TV.
FOTH: So when your first race was over and you were back in the jock’s room, what the feeling like for you?
ET: I just remembered the feeling of all the adrenaline. It was so cool. And I couldn’t believe it just had happened.
FOTH: Let’s move on to your first win. What track was that at and who was the trainer? Did you win by a lot or in a photo?
ET: I was at Fairmount Park on a horse named Ava’s Parker for trainer Kenny Jansen. We came off the pace and won by about length.
FOTH: What was the feeling like going back to the winner’s circle for the first time?
ET: I was so shocked, I couldn’t believe I just won. It was such a humble feeling because it meant that all my hard work I have put into becoming a rider has finally paid off. It was just really a dream come true.
FOTH: Now did the jockeys get you good after the race and did you know it was coming?
ET: Oh yes! I was walking back to the jocks room with my dad after my first race and I see my boyfriend, Javier Diego, who is also a jockey, just waiting for me. He gave me a hug and then bam they all started attacking me with raw eggs, baby power, etc. they even locked me out of my jocks room so I couldn’t run away from them. Ha Ha
FOTH: So I have never been to Fairmount Park. Tell me about the track.
ET: Fairmount is definitely old school. I remember growing up and it had live racing at least 5 days a week and now sadly we only run 2 days a week. It is located in Collinsville, IL. I personally love just because everyone is family no matter what. It is just an older track that is getting run down.
FOTH: So do you eventually see Fairmount closing?
ET: Sadly, yes.
FOTH: So what is a typical race day like for you?
ET: I’ll go out in the morning and walk barns. Then when I get to the room, usually make sure the sauna is on. I’ll go and sign in. I’ll get a quick shower and jump in the sauna for a little bit to read how my races look for the day. I will Try and get a little power nap too.
FOTH: Now what do you do when your away from the racetrack?
ET: When I am away from the racetrack I am always with my dogs. I have an albino Doberman named, Sunshine and a Chihuahua Mix, named Timón. I love my animals so I tend to take them to Parks or go to my parent’s farm to always be playing outside. If You don’t see me with my dogs, then I am with my mother or my boyfriend. My mom is my number fan and supporter, she is an amazing women and I couldn’t be more grateful to have her by my side. My boyfriend, Javier Diego, is the exact same. When we are off the track we are always with the dogs or working out together or just being dorks together.
FOTH: So if you weren’t a jockey what do you think you would be doing with your life?
ET: If I wasn’t a jockey I would want to be a cop. I plan on going back to school soon to get my degree for criminal justice.
FOTH: Looking back, what has been the hardest thing you had to do to become a jockey?
ET: For me it was probably cutting the weight to become a bug. A year before I started to ride I was almost 150 lbs, so I lost a lot of weight Since I was losing muscle it was harder for me, but I took my time and did it the correct way. I had a wonderful support team which always helps. They are still my support team (my mom, dad, boyfriend, brother, sister, and my two best friends) and they watch every one of my races and give me advice.
FOTH: If Fairmont closes where would you go to ride?
ET: I have been riding at Arlington and Hawthorne too.
FOTH: Now what are some funny things you have seen so far in your career?
ET: Lots of funny things. The funniest I’ve probably seen was in the jocks room. One of the guys made up and concoction for one of the other guy’s birthday and it was nastiest thing I have ever seen and smelt awful. It was so funny tho.
FOTH: Do you have any idea how long you would like to ride for?
ET: Probably till my early to mid 30s.
FOTH: Does the thought of injury go through your mind?
ET: Of course. It is part of the job.
FOTH: Do you think after you retire you could become a horse trainer or owner at some point?
ET: Horse trainer for sure. Both of my parents have trainer and I could really see me training in the future, as a team with my little brother.
FOTH: What has been the hardest part for you so far in your career?
ET: Getting an honest chance. It has been very hard to break in and for people to give me a real chance.
FOTH: Are there any other female riders out your way?
ET: When I rode at Fairmount Park I am the only female. But in Chicago there is few more females.
FOTH: Oh who is there?
ET: Sophie Doyle, Brittany Van Berg. Kim Cecil, Skylar Spanabel.
FOTH: Do you have any goals for yourself?
ET: My dream is to ride at Kneeland and Canterbury. So if I get to ride at one of those places I would be happy.
FOTH: So what are looking forward to in future for yourself?
ET: To become a better rider and person all around.
FOTH: If a young girl told you she wanted to become a jockey what advice would you give her?
ET: I would tell her to follow her dreams. I would ask her what her questions are. I would help and guide her in any way I possibly can. And I would always tell her to never give up!!! I’ve been there and I thought I would never make it. But I kept pushing harder and harder, and I finally made it. I have a lot more to learn but we all learn something new every day. I was always the annoying little girl following the female jockeys around or watching them because I wanted to be like them so bad. Stephanie Slinger helped me and guided me when I was just starting. She used to take me to the jockey’s room at Arlington Park and teach me on the equizicer. I would do that for a little girl or anyone in a heartbeat and help them.
FOTH: Elizabeth I am out of questions, thumbs up for doing this interview and any last words to wrap it up?
ET: Thank you so much. ðŸ™‚ I hope I answered everything to everyone’s liking. I’m not used to getting interviewed ðŸ™ˆ and oh and don’t forget to kiss some female feet for me footboy he he.