June 22, 2007 Los Angeles, CA
Jeff Kluss/ Sports Image Times
Since we just came out of the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes and are running toward the Preakness, we wanted to furnish our readers with an educational experience that brings to life the daily struggles within this wonderful sport of Thoroughbred Racing.
Joy Scott shows her attitude
Photo by: Linda Shier
When you talk of Jockeys and Thoroughbred Racing you don’t normally think of the female gender taking part in such a competitive sport. Why is this? Because women in this sport are far and few between and historically they don’t last nearly as long as their male counterparts. Why? Maybe it is about priorities, possibly about a glass ceiling, or maybe it is simply the way it is. My partner in crime and our great Equine Editor and Photographer Linda Shier met up with one of the major exceptions in the business who has been at it for over 25 years. This incredible lady is one of the best kept secrets since she is located in Southern California and runs at Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, and other less notable tracks. Her name is Joy Scott and this is an interview with a West Coast icon of the Industry.
Joy Scott at early morning workout at Santa Anita
Photo by: Linda Shier
Home for Joy is Azusa, California where she has resided for about the last three years and prior to that was Arcadia for over 17 years. She is a native Californian from the San Fernando Valley. She is a true Valley Girl that went to Valley College and has a 19 year old son name Jesse Sanchez. Jesse loves horses but rides socially only since his time is into team sports such as hockey and football. Now Mom is coaching him on girls now versus taking in all the games and practices.
Joy left home at the age of 11 to live with her grandmother and then at 15 really got hooked on horses. She started by exercising everyone’s horses at the track. She started with exercising horses and breaking them to a bridle. She was a “horse child”. Joy sat on her first donkey at the age of 9 months. At 15 ½ she began working with horses in earnest by training them to a bridle, She worked with Lori Grouve who was a female jockey and at that time one of the very few. She was a hard-working woman that was quite a mentor for Joy. Joy learned from the ground up with Lori and taught her how to sit a saddle. Joy first started racing horses in Endurance Events. Then she began working at Hollywood Park and worked for Tommy Burns, who taught her a European style of riding. Tommy was her second mentor that looked out for her at the age of 17 when she was truly bitten by the bug. She remembers the moment of a Chestnut Colt that she felt one with the horse. At that time she didn’t tell anyone she wanted to be a jockey since she stated everyone would have thought she was nuts. But at the time of working with the Chestnut Colt was when she determined she was going to ride competitively.
All 4 feet 10 inches of True Grit
Photo by: Linda Shier
Tommy sent her with about 7 horses to work. After breaking and working those seven horses and learning much more from her new friends in the business, she met Bobby Garcia who was a jockey of some notoriety. Bobby liked to teach and was important to Joy since he taught her how to ride competitively. He took Joy under his wing, Bobby is still a great friend today even though he doesn’t ride anymore. When he does see her he always tells Joy how he is so proud of her and what she has accomplished. He always treated her as an equal in the business and never tried to take advantage. He became more of a father figure.
Then she met John Treasure who had about 60 colts in training which were some really nice horses which she helped break. This was another huge leap in her learning and experience process and she learned a lot by doing this. Joy always took the jobs that nobody else wanted such as training the young horses. She turned what many perceived as a bunch of “negatives” and turned them into positives in her career path.
Bobby Garcia taught Joy the essentials basics and the technical aspects of riding. He tried to teach Joy how to walk like a jockey, but she just couldn’t do that. Attitude is a lot of riding though and he imparted that to Joy as well. Everyone that succeeds always has a mentor, and Bobby Garcia became Joy’s for a number of years.
Early morning workout at Santa Anita
I asked her if she was aware that they are formalizing a jockey college at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. To which she responded that she didn’t know if the process could be formalized without the dues being paid. “It’s a lot of hard work and hard times, and all of it builds character” Joy stated. “It takes time and understanding. You have to become one with the animal and appreciate the horse’s personality and you only get that over time.”
Paradise Ranch asked Joy to come out and teach students in the art of being a Jockey. It’s a Survivalist Sport…..according to Joy. “It’s like running away to join the circus , and its about that hard to do as well.” She stuck it out in California and virtually all her peers were male. She had folks advise her to go to Pennsylvania and hook up with the circuits that have women jockey events. “It is more art than a science, and a lot of it is mastering yourself and being able to understand the horse completely.”
Joy is the only woman left of all that tried to become jockeys back in 1994.Christine Davenport, and others would ride in practices and they would typically only last about 3 years. But the one constant that has kept Joy focused and what she calls “the best thing she had in her life” was her son and knowing she was doing it as much for him as she was for herself.
We at Sports Image Times want to thank Joy Scott for this great insight into what it takes to be a woman and make it in one of the most competitive sports in the world. We wish her all the best, and highly recommend that any of our readers when they find themselves out on the West Coast, go to Santa Anita or Hollywood Park and enjoy an evening watching some great racing as well as a great jockey, Joy Scott.
Special thanks to Santa Anita for allowing us to shoot Joy. We highly recommend you visit this great track whenever you happen to be in the Los Angeles area.