Edited Churchill Downs Press Release — Churchill Downs’ G.H. MUMM Winner’s Circle was greeted with a new face when 19-year-old jockey Katie Clawson guided Street Thunder, owned by Tom Grether Farms and trained by Kellyn Gorder, to a victory in Friday’s fifth race for the first victory of her career.
Clawson, a 10-pound bug from Brazil, Ind., has kicked off her riding career on a good note having finished second in her first two starts as a jockey before her victory Friday afternoon. All three of her starts have been aboard horses trained by Gorder, who she began working for as an exercise rider in November of last year.
“It’s been pretty amazing,” Clawson said. “The boss, Kellyn (Gorder), has put me on horses that have put me in a good spot and the ones that know where they need to be and it’s made me look pretty good. Each race has been just great. All the fillies have run for me and the horses have just been fantastic for me. They’re the ones doing most of the work. Everything has really set up the right way.”
Clawson has been around horses from the outset riding hunter-jumpers and being active in 4-H, but it wasn’t until 2010 Horse of the Year and future Hall of Fame inductee Zenyatta began to make noise in the racing world when her focus shifted toward Thoroughbreds.
“I’ve always been a horse freak,” Clawson said. “Race horses haven’t been in my life for as long. Before Thoroughbreds it’s been English, 4-H, hunter-jumpers and other regular horse people things and then Zenyatta came along. That’s been kind of a newer thing since she came around and she really just kind of did it for me. She was that thing that just made me want to do it and kind of enchanted me a little bit. Barbaro and Smarty Jones were the first two that got me interested in it a little bit and I watched a lot of horse racing movies and stuff like that, but I really only had the basic general knowledge to begin with.”
While her career is just beginning, Clawson is aiming high for the future. One major goal of hers would be to win an Eclipse Award for Top Apprentice. In the meantime however, she plans only riding for Gorder.
“I’m probably going to just stick with Kellyn (Gorder) for a little while,” Clawson said. “I’ll just ride for him here and there and just get myself in a better spot of the year. I’d like to shoot for an Eclipse Award so I don’t want to start the bug until the right time of the year. If I go out on my own in November that would be good; I’ll be rolling by the time the New Year starts. If I want to do it, I want to do it the right way.”
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