Ferrin Peterson is a young jockey and a vet and she started out on the West Coast and moved her tack to the East Coast and had an incredible 2020 year riding at Monmouth Park and now she is down at Laurel Park and I chatted with her for this interview so enjoy:
FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
FP: Hi Chris! Sacramento, CA born and raised.
FOTH: What sort of girl were you growing up?
FP: Always wanted to be riding my horse. Loved the outdoors and being around animals.
FOTH: Were you in sports at all? What did you think the first time you saw a live horse race?
FP: I only wanted to ride my horse until I started high school and picked up pole vaulting. My older sister, Brittany, had been very successful at pole vaulting and had our high school record at the time until I later broke it. I have also picked up road cycling, mixed martial arts, and I enjoy learning new sports and just being outside and active.
FOTH: Now I know you went to vet school at some point. What was the road that led you down this path?
FP: I had an interest in sports medicine from being a competitive athlete and wanting to learn more about how to heal and prevent sports injuries. Having a horse also intrigued me, because I wanted to be able to work on my own horses someday. I also wanted to be involved in the racing industry to be able to work with my favorite athletes.
FOTH: So was vet school what you thought it would be and what the hardest part if any? How long were you in it for?
FP: Four years of vet school and four years of a bachelor’s degree before. The hardest part was balancing school work with outside experience. I was doing foal watch at night during the spring, working as a tech in the equine ICU, and working for a vet in a Thoroughbred breeding shed while attending classes for my first two years. Then my last two years I balanced school with being an exercise rider then a jockey.
FOTH: Was that your plan going in. Going to vet school with the hopes of becoming a jockey? Who taught you in the early days when you were being an ex-rider?
FP: No, I thought I had moved past my jockey dream. I didn't have racetrack connections so it just seemed like an impossible goal. It was through working at the thoroughbred breeding farm that was owned by a trainer. I started breaking her horses on the farm then asked to get my exercise rider's license then eventually became a jockey.
FOTH: So who taught you how to ride/gallop thoroughbreds and looking back was it easier or harder than you thought it was gonna be?
FP: An exercise rider at the farm taught me. Then at the track I've always asked for advice from the other riders. As I've moved to more competitive tracks, I've been mentored by more top jockeys and I just keep learning and improving.
FOTH: Now take me through the steps of becoming an actual jockey? What track were gonna start at and what was the feeling like having an actual jockey license in your hands?
FP: You start as an exercise rider then work to become a jockey and have to get the okay out of the starting gate and have the senior jockeys and outriders sign off on your abilities. I started at Golden Gate Fields. It was such a long and frustrating process for me to obtain my license so it was a huge relief when I finally had it.
FOTH: So tell me about your first race. What track was it at and how nervous were you?
FP: 3rd. I was not nervous at, just excited to finally ride in a race.
FOTH: What is Golden Gate Fields like since I have never been out there?
FP: It is out in the Bay Area and it was about an hour away from where I was based.
FOTH: So how did you end up going from Golden Gate Fields to Monmouth Park and Julie Krone being your agent, did that all kind of tie in together?
FP: I met Julie when I graduated vet school and moved to the Southern California circuit as she lives in San Diego. She became my agent (jockey agent-cf) and we started working together and then she asked me if I’d be open to the idea of going to Monmouth Park to make a name out there.
FOTH: So you had some incredible success at Monmouth Park in 2020. What was it like say the first week or so for you and did you have a good reception from the trainers out at Monmouth Park since you were coming from the West Coast?
FP: It was pretty tough early on getting going. I started with getting on horses for Pat McBurney at one point, but I didn’t know if I was going to be able to break in with other barns or not. It was a tough start in the beginning being a new face, they wanted to see me ride before they would give me a shot on their horses.
FOTH: Now Monmouth isn’t a year round race track and right now you just moved your tack to Laurel Park. Are you planning on staying at Laurel until Monmouth Park opens back up, or are you planning on staying at Laurel?
FP: It is too early for me to say right now as I’m just starting here. I’m just going to wait and see what happens and go where the best opportunity for me is and keep progressing forward. There are a lot of factors and time will tell.
FOTH: How long would you like to see yourself riding races for?
FP: Hopefully 15 years.
FOTH: If a young girl came up to you and said she wanted to become a jockey, what advice would you give her?
FP: Be dedicated, show up every morning, get on as many horses as you can. I used to work thoroughbred sales, I worked in the breeding sheds, foaling barns. The more you learn horsemanship the better you’ll be at working with horses on all levels.
FOTH: What was a typical riding day like up at Monmouth Park?
FP: I would breeze 10 in the morning, rider races in the afternoon. And when I went home after the races I was always looking forward to getting m out of bed to do it again the next morning.
FOTH: What are some things you like to do when you’re away from the racetrack?
FP: I like going on runs, hiking, biking, and just being outdoors.
FOTH: Is it weird to ride races without fans?
FP: It is definitely more fun with fans there, but you still have your trainers there.
FOTH: Well Ferrin thumbs up for doing this interview and any last words to say to wrap this up?
FP: Yeah, thanks for the interview and hopefully I'll meet you sometime. Keep up the great work with your website as well.