Thursday, October 1, 2009 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, KY . . . October 1, 2009 . . . Apprentice jockey Amanda Tamburello earned her first career win Thursday at Turfway Park, guiding 18-1 Include de Uno in a steady drive from last to first to win the third race by three-quarters of a length. The mount was the 15th of her nascent career. She also has four third-place finishes.
A native of Michigan, Tamburello laid her foundation with horses not at the racetrack but as an accomplished eventer. She began showing horses at age 10 and progressed to the Intermediate level in dressage, show jumping, and cross-country. She moved to Alabama in 1996 to work with Jim Graham, an equestrian competing on the international stage and a member of the team representing the United States in the 1994 World Equestrian Games. After serving as Graham's assistant trainer, she took on students of her own in Georgia and Michigan.
In 2006 Tamburello left eventing and moved to Ocala, Florida, where she began galloping horses for Four Roses Thoroughbreds. In 2008 she moved to Kentucky and began galloping for trainer Ken McPeek. This summer, one of McPeek's clients, John Gerbas, set her up with horses at Arlington Park, where she was certified an apprentice on July 19.
Asked about her decision to switch from eventing to race riding, Tamburello said, "I guess I never lost the little girl in me. When you're eventing, you end up stabled next to Thoroughbred farms. I'd see the racehorses, and I wanted to gallop them. I didn't have a plan to be a jockey when I first started, but people kept saying, 'You're a jockey, aren’t you? You ought to be a jockey.'"
Tamburello credits eventing with giving her tools that translate well to race-riding. "Especially in cross-country, you have to think fast and plan ahead," she said. "You're always looking two jumps ahead. You have to have good balance [in all three events]. When you approach a jump, you have to feel what the horse is willing and able to do, what he's telling you, whether he's ready. I was good enough in eventing to get horses to do what they could do, even if sometimes they didn't really want to."
In addition to Turfway, the Louisville-based Tamburello has ridden at Arlington Park, Saratoga, and Kentucky Downs. She plans to continue on the Kentucky circuit and return to Turfway for the winter meet.