Jan Rogers has been riding
awhile and is currently a 58 year old jockey! I say good for her and hope I
am still that active when I am 58 and I emailed her some questions to fill out
and here is what she said to my questions
FOTH: Where were you born and where did you grow up?
JR: Born in Sulphur Springs, Tx. and grew up in Garland, Tx. from 5 years old through high school at South Garland High.
FOTH: Did you always have a love for horses, like when you were a young girl?
JR: I was riding a horse before I was born, grew up riding bareback then playdays (pole bending, barrels, etc.)
FOTH: What was the first racetrack you ever want to and what did you think of seeing your first live horse race?
JR: The 1st racetrack I ever went to was the 1st time I ever rode in a race-June 1, 1980, which was at the old Ross Downs in Colleyville, Tx. (long gone, now DFW airport is there) actually the very 1st was a "brush track" were they ran match races in 1969.
FOTH: What was it like getting up on a horse for the first time?
JR: I've always ridden so riding in a race was no big deal.
FOTH: At one point in your life did you decide you wanted to become a jockey and what did your parents think of that idea when you told them?
JR: I broke horses for various people when I was in high school, one of the people I was riding for had a race bred QH (quarter horses) that she wanted to put in training. I went with her and the second they saw me they wanted me to start riding races for them(this was the brush track) My parents were fine with it until I got hurt and that ended my career. I had a horse come out of the gates and go straight over the rail.(this was a straight-away track with the cars parked right up against the hard solid pipe rail). I broke my collarbone, wrist, finger, and messed up my knee. Those were the days of hopping horses, blowing their minds..so I didn't get back on a race horse for 10 years. I was riding barrels etc. during those years.
FOTH: Looking back was becoming a jockey easier or harder than you thought it would be?
JR: You know it's funny, when I 1st started in 1980 I was the only girl at Ross Downs but had no problems, had my own separate building to change in. It was later at places like Louisiana Downs, Delta that women weren't liked too much by the other male riders and of course it's always been harder to get mounts "women just aren't as strong a man."
FOTH: Take me through the phases it took for you to become a jockey?
JR: I used to drive 60 miles one way to gallop for my 1st TB trainer. I rode a few races at Evangeline Downs trying to get my apprentice license but they wouldn't give me one so I went to Nuevo Laredo Downs-Mexico and rode for 9 weeks. I won 1 QH (quarter horse) race and 3 TB races there. I came back and the 1st race I rode at Delta Downs on a 1st time starter I won in 1985. My husband started training and we drove from our place in Saltillo, Tx. to Louisiana Downs every week running horses(a 3 hour one way drive). I won races there for our stable and for other people. We had a mare that won and paid $125.00 on a $2.00 ticket and paid the 2nd highest exacta in La. Downs history at that time in 1989 - $20,000.00 +. I also rode Quarter horses at most of the tracks in Texas and Oklahoma. I rode the 1989 TQHA 870 yd Horse of the Year-Pass To Jr. in all of his races.
FOTH: How many years have you rode for?
JR: I rode regular from 1983 till Dec. 15th 2003 when a loaded dumptruck rear ended my S-10 pickup. I was stopped to turn left and he was going 50 mph and never even breaked. My truck was totaled and I had a torn rotator cuff ( my 3rd one ), a concussion that had me out of it for a week(I had severe headaches for a month) and my neck was so messed up it still bothers me today. Anyway I was off for a year and a half before I could ride again. I started back in the fall of 2005 until this year. I don't ride for anyone else anymore, just our few horses.
FOTH: Tell me what you remember about your 1st race.
JR: Too long ago but I looked at the picture, it was at Ross Downs in Colleyville, Tx. June 1, 1980 Three Bux Dream 300 yd QH race. I was in the 1 hole and the 5 horse field finished 1 to 5 in order in a staggered line.
FOTH: Tell me about your first win and did the jockeys get you good after the race and did you know it was coming?
JR: This was in non-parimutuel Texas and I don't remember anything after that race but when I won my 1st official apprentice race in Nuevo Laredo, a TB race, they soaked me with buckets of water coming off the track and I had to ride the next race with no extra boots or pants to change into. I was pretty lucky there because 90% of the riders spoke no english, there weren't but a few "gringos" riding there.
FOTH: What tracks have you rode at over the years and do you have a favorite one?
JR: Louisiana Downs, Delta, Evangeline, Remington Park, Sallisaw,OK, Ada, OK, Strout, OK, in Texas pre-pari-mutual -Ross Downs, Trinity Meadows, Pineywoods Downs, G. Rollie White downs,after Texas went pari-mutual - G Rollie White in Brady which was the 1st track to run, On opening day I won the 870 Stakes on Pass to Jr., Sam Houston Race Park, Retama Park,Manor Downs, Gillespie downs, and Lone Star. I was 1 of 3 women out of the 7 that rode at Lone Star the 1st year open to win a race there. I like the Retama Park atmosphere best but SHRP's track surface. I really liked Remingon Parks jockey room and track but not how far it was to get a horse to the track in the mornings, but I guess my favorite track would be Trinity Meadows-I won the most races of my career there.
FOTH: What was the worst injury you ever had while riding?
JR: I've had 13 concussions, broken collar bone, 3 wrists, 2 fingers, 3 broken ribs (at one time), torn rib cartilage(worse then broke), 3 torn rotator cuffs, messed up knee, hand, but the worse injury was at Trinity Meadows, Weatherford, TX when I was dropped in a race, my horse went end over end so the tape I watched later shows, I don't remember anything after getting on the horse in the paddock. They care flighted me off the track to the hospital and I was out for a week, don't remember anything about the wreck to this day and that was in 1992. I had an extreme concussion but not much else that time. No broken legs (knock on wood) in my career.
FOTH: You mentioned you are planning to retire in a year or so. What are some of the thoughts going through your head as you approach that date and what led to this decision?
JR: I'm getting older but didn't feel it until lately and rumors are that Retama Park isn't going to run next year. We bought a place less then a mile from the track and don't want to haul anywhere anymore. We've built an arena and barn and want to train barrel horses and rent a couple of stalls in the future. I'm not really ready to quit riding a few like I've done now the last 2 years but if Retama is done after this meet in Sept. then I guess I'm done too.
FOTH: Tell me a couple funny jockey stories.
JR: I don't know if it's funny but I got to sit on a Clydesdale for publicity shots for Sam Houston Race Park, it was fun. (I have pictures) It's not funny to me but one of the trainers that saw it happen said he wished he had a video camera, he could have won America's Funniest Videos, I came out of the gates with another rider on 2 babies at SHRP (Sam Houston Race Park), we were breezing, going around the turn the saddle started slipping completely sideways on the horse with me hanging on her side between her and the other horse, somehow I was able to leap onto her back as the saddle went under her belly. I got her pulled up on the backside, why she didn't break into bucking I'll never know.
FOTH: Do you feel you had to work harder to get mounts and stuff being a female rider?
JR: For sure, I've never been lucky enough to ride for a "big" stable, I always rode for the small, poor stables except for one trainer that I rode almost all of his stable at Trinity Meadows- Wes Morgan(who is dead now). I won a Stakes Race for him on my favorite horse, Frosty Hitter, who I won 13 races on and 8 on another of his horses, and multiple wins on a lot of his horses. I won a lot of races for him.
FOTH: Were their times when you were riding that you thought about quitting?
JR: No, everytime I got hurt I couldn't wait to get well and get back to riding.
FOTH: Take me through what you do in a typical day.
JR: Since I've slowed down and Retama is just a training center right now and almost empty and I don't ride other peoples horses anymore, I get up in the morning and feed the 4 horses we have at home then go to the track and gallop our only horse in training right now. We have 4 horses and a boarder, cats, 1 dog, 5 Painted Desert sheep(to keep the place mowed) and a big garden to take care of. Before the pickup wreck I galloped a lot of horses every morning but after being off 1 1/2 years I haven't ridden for a lot of people anymore and only ours last meet.
FOTH: In your email you told me your 58 years old and that your going to ride for maybe one more year. How hard is it for you riding at the age of 58 or do you still feel young? Is that one of the reasons why you are hanging up your boots so to speak.
JR: Like I said earlier most of the time I don't feel 58 but lately I have a lot of aches and pains, some are still from the wreck, my neck kills me some times and my shoulder (rotator cuff) but the main reason is the track closing next year.
FOTH: I know you are riding in Texas now. Are there good crowds for the races and have you rode in any quarter horse races?
JR: Some times Retama has pretty good crowds, especially on $1.00 night but Texas in general has a problem because we don't have slots and all the surrounding states do, so our purses are terrible. I started out riding QH (quarter horses) races, I won close to 300 races at Ross Downs before Texas went pari-mutual and 3/4 of those were QH. I won most of the TB races there but out of 20 races on the card, maybe 5 would be TB. I told you earlier about the 870 horse of the year I rode.
FOTH: What advice would you give to a young female girl who wanted to become a jockey?
JR: Women are a lot more excepted now then when I started, just work hard and be dependable.
FOTH: What is the best and worth thing about being a jockey?
JR: The best is the thrill of crossing the finish line 1st and the worst are the spills I've had over my career
FOTH: Have you ever had any problems with your weight at all?
JR: Yes but in the opposite way, I weigh 100 lbs and some trainers are just sure that dead weight is bad, bad, bad. My belief is that weight in the saddle stays right where it's supposed to be, not like a heavy rider flopping all over the place. All the guys are in the hot box and flipping and I'm eating pizza trying to gain weight. I have a saddle with a leaded tree so its heavy before any lead is put in the pockets.
FOTH: Have you won any stakes races over the years and do you know how many wins you have?
JR: I won the Weatherford Handicap on my favorite horse Frosty Hitter (he was also the Older Horse of the Meet at TM in 1996), won the Honeymoon Stakes on Lovely Bonita at Retama in 2001, won an Arabian Stakes in 2002 on Conni O, several QH (quarter horse) 870 stakes over the years, 6 stakes races at Gillespie Downs in Fredricksburg, Tx. on Touchoville from 1998 to 2002. Like I said earlier I won around 300 races in Texas before pari-mutual and after officially around another 200, I don't have an exact amount without calling the Guild. I never had an agent and didn't ride a lot of horses for just anyone during my career.
FOTH: Do you have an exact date on when you will ride your last race?
JR: No, if rumors are wrong and Retama runs again next year, who knows?
FOTH: After you retire are you going to be still involved in racing in one way or another or are you done with the sport so to speak after you retire?
JR: If I'm not riding I don't want to be in racing anymore, I'll start on barrel horses again.
FOTH: Jan thumbs up for doing this interview and any last words the floor is yours and what were the highlights of your career?
JR: Highlights of my career would be winning 6 stakes races on Touchoville, she and I were considered the Queens of Gillespie, we won almost every TB Stakes they had there for several years in a row, winning 13 races on Frosty Hitter and him winning a Stakes, and I had an all # 8's Hat Trick on July 9, 1992. I won 2 races on Jan. 1st, both out of the 1 hole one year. The win at Louisiana Downs that the exacta paid $20,000.00 + which was the 2nd largest in La. downs history at that time. Oh and I was featured in the Ft. Worth Star Telegram newspaper, a double spread, when I was riding at Ross Downs, I was leading rider at Ross Downs in 1987 and 2nd leading rider there several years, I was the only girl riding at Ross except for an occasional girl that came in from somewhere else. I was in the top 20 most every year at Trinity Meadows. I breezed Bwana Charlie to the fastest time in the 2003 Fasig-Tipton 2 yr. old in training sale at Lone Star and he sold a sale topping $240,000.00. Thanks for the interview and being on your website Chris.
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