Kim Dvorak was a rider at Delaware Park. After a phone call, I got Kim on the phone for the following interesting chat. Enjoy!
Kim Dvorak at Delaware Park, 2002 Opening Day
FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
KD: I was born in Wilmington, Delaware. I was raised in Virginia and then came back up to Maryland.
FOTH: Do you have any brothers or sisters and are you close with your parents? What do they think of you being a jockey?
KD: I have one brother and he lives here in Delaware and he is about 15 minutes from me. Mom and dad live down in Elkton, Maryland and I am close with all of them. My brother is awfully excited about me being a jockey and so is my mom. My dad is not quite sure about it, he gets excited and then he doesn't ya know. (laughs)
FOTH: Hve your brother or your parents seen you race yet?
KD: Yes. I had my mom up here in December of last year and my mom got to be in the win picture as well as my dad.
FOTH: What sort of girl were you growing up? Were you more of a loner type or did you have a lot of friends?
KD: I had a few friends, but not a lot. I kinda stayed to myself.
FOTH: What job or jobs did you have before becoming a jockey?
KD: I was working for Dupont. (laughs) Then I went back with the horses when I graduated from school. I was working at Fairhill and had the opportunity to work for Dupont so I went there for a little while and decided I didn't like it I wanted to go back to the horses so that's what I did.
FOTH: What event or events led you to getting involved with horses?
KD: My grandfather was always around horses. He worked on a farm growing up. He was the one who actually got me involved with the horses, he brought me my first horse so that is what got me interested in horses.
FOTH: When you were getting involved with horses was your ultimate goal to become a jockey?
KD: I really didn't have any goals set as far as working with the horses because I just enjoyed being around them. I like working outdoors. I didn't think I was gonna become a jockey. (laughs)
FOTH: Did you have anybody help you out or take you under their wing so to speak?
KD: No I kinda just jumped into it on my own. There was a guy named Dave Brown way down in Tampa, FL who let me get on a few of his horses, get okayed from the gate, but that was about it.
FOTH: Did you find it natural for you getting up on a horses or did you have to learn to adjust to it?
KD: No, cause I rode horses as a kid. My big thing was getting used to riding with the saddle cause I always rode bareback. Getting up on a horse never seemed awkward to me.
FOTH: Do you think being a jockey is easier or harder than you thought it would be?
KD: Actually I thought it would be easier than I thought it was gonna be harder than it actually was. It is still tough out there for woman to really succeed as being a jockey. I don't have an agent and I really don't push hard for mounts in the afternoon. I try and make my money in the mornings. I ride in the afternoon for my own pleasure and excitement.
FOTH: Tell us what you can remember about your first race?
KD: Yeah I was down at Tampa Bay Downs and the horses name was "Were Ready Baby" and I remember going into the gate and happened to pick my head up and I looked straight ahead down the backstretch and I was kinda amazed at first and then it kinda sacred me as there was absolutely no other horses out there. (laughs) I mean you get out there in the mornings it is no big deal, you gallop, you breeze, your doing whatever it is you’re out there doing out there. In the afternoon it just seemed like dead silence when I went out there on my first horse. He didn't finish anywhere.
FOTH: Were you nervous at all? I mean I have been to Tampa Bay Downs and was it nerve racking walking out and seeing people at the track?
KD: Actually I really didn't think about all the people being there. I really wasn't as nervous as I thought I was gonna be until I got into the gate. I was so excited I just wanted to get out there and go.
FOTH: Tell us what you remember about your first win.
KD: It was a photo finish and it was here at Delaware Park and it was actually on Halloween. I was on a horse named "Pyrotechnic" and I was coming down the lane and I took the lead and my horse blew its knee and ended up blowing the turn on me, but he still kept running. Alison Hershbell ended up coming up on my inside, but her horse had died there for a minute and started backing off so it was only me in front and then all the sudden Alison's horse started coming back on and she came down on the inside and I didn't win by much. I think it was just a head and I won by that so that was really exciting. (laughs)
FOTH: What was it like going in the winner's circle for the first time?
KD: I was so excited I almost forgot to smile. (big laugh) It was like I couldn't compose myself when I went in there. Coming back after getting off the horse I was very nervous that I had won the race. I was really surprised cause I didn't think I had a shot to win that day. Right after I went in and weighed out and started walking back to the paddock everybody started coming out with their buckets of water, baby powder, laundry detergent, etc. It was exciting though.
FOTH: I was gonna ask you about that. Did you know it was coming?
KD: I got creamed really good. I looked like a soap suds bubble when I went upstairs. I knew something always happens to them like they got cold water thrown on them or something, but a lot of the guys up here didn't think I had a chance to win, they thought the favorite was gonna win and they did not expect my horse to jump up and do as well as he did. Everybody was like "Oh my God she won the race" at the last minute and they were running upstairs getting buckets of water. (Note: for those not aware of the layout of Delaware Park, the jockey’s room is about as far away from the track as can be, so it’s a long walk from the track to the room!)
FOTH: What tracks have you rode at?
KD: I've ridden at Tampa for a few years, Penn National and Delaware are the only 3 tracks I have ridden at.
FOTH: You seem to be a part time type rider. Has it always been that way? If you were a full time rider why did you scale back to part time?
KD: I've always kinda been a part time rider in the afternoon. One reason is because of my age as I got started pretty late in my career, I've had some spills on the way. I just want to be able to spend time at home with my family. I didn't think being on road all the time was the way for me to go. I like to stay close to my family. My mom has cancer and she has been fighting that for a while and she has just had a lot of health problems and I really just want to stay close to home. (We wish your mom the best of luck in her fight) I do a lot of riding for my fiance and I pick up a mount here and there to help people out. I try to keep my afternoons open.
FOTH: What injuries have you had and what was the worst one?
KD: I think my worst injury was when I shattered my ankle. That happened in the morning. I have been lucky and have not had anything bad happen to me in the afternoon. All my injuries have been in the mornings.
FOTH: Do you have a favorite horse, track or trainer you like to ride for?
KD: I like riding for Ricky Collier. He has a horse named "Tut Wild" that I think a lot of. He is a cheap little horse, but he is an honest horse. He goes out there and makes an impression when he runs.
FOTH: What advice would you give somebody that wanted to become a jockey?
KD: Practice, practice, practice. (laughs) Make sure what you gonna do in the afternoon, you can do in the morning. Work with your stick and your style of riding. Just get real comfortable with yourself and just go out there with full confidence.
FOTH: Do you feel female riders do not get half the respect that they deserve?
KD: Oh yeah. I think that is at every track. There is a lot of good riders out there that are up and coming or ones that have been riding for years and don't get recognition that they deserve.
FOTH: Any other female riders you like?
KD: I like Alison Hershel. Alison is a very good rider. Darci Rice, I like watching her ride, she was very good with horses coming off the pace. Of course everybody knows Julie Krone.
FOTH: How much longer do you plan on riding for or you have no idea?
KD: That I really don't know.
FOTH: What do you like to do when you’re doing non horse related things?
KD: I have 4 dogs that I keep down at my moms house. I tie up a lot of time with them. A friend of mine that I work with has a little girl and she is on her own, her husband isn't around, so I spend a little bit of time with her and take her with me so that occupies most of my time.
FOTH: What thoughts are going through your head when you are riding? Do you try to program the race in your head?
KD: I always try and figure out how the race is gonna lay out through the course. Try to figure out what horses are gonna be where, which ones are gonna fizzle out. I try to prepare myself for the way I think it is gonna go and make sure I'm right in position and have my horse where he needs to be, but that doesn't always pan out so you got to act on a last minute thing and use your own judgment, but I try and think ahead if I can. (laughs)
FOTH: You ride at Delaware Park. Have you ever checked out the slot machines there?
KD: No I don't go up there at all actually. I go up and watch the races every now and then, but I don't mess with that.
FOTH: Any tracks you would like to ride at one day?
KD: I would like to ride at Keeneland one day. That would be a nice track to step out onto one day. Belmont is nice too.
FOTH: Which do you prefer? Dirt or turf racing?
KD: It doesn't matter to me. It depends on the horse that you've got, but I have no preference.
FOTH: Have you even been taken off a horse due to being a female?
KD: No, I have been very lucky in that aspect.
FOTH: Do you find it hard getting mounts at Delaware?
KD: Each year it gets a little tougher cause there is always somebody new that is coming in. Tony Black always comes down and we have Eddie Martin Jr. from the Fairgrounds here now.
FOTH: Do you approach riding the Arabian races any different that the thoroughbred races? Which do you prefer?
KD: I like the Arabians cause they are a very smart animal. It's always a challenge to ride them. It's a neat thing for me. I like riding both.
FOTH: Kim that is about all the questions I have for you. Anything you want to say to wrap this up?
KD: I wish everybody luck this year and everybody has a safe meet.