Saturday, September 8, 2012 12:00 AM
FLORENCE, Ky., Sept. 8, 2012 – Apprentice jockey Aaron Court earned his first career win today at Turfway Park, riding Known Contender to a 9 1/4 length score in the second race. The ride was the 22nd of his nascent career. He also has one third-place finish, earned at Ellis Park.
Known Contender shot to the lead out of the gate and led every step, marking the time in :22.55, :45.77 and :58.93 before finishing the six furlongs in 1:12.63. Known Contender bolted and went extremely wide on the turn, but Court coolly took the gelding in hand, redirected his attention, and finished with a strong drive down the stretch.
That professional attitude comes by way of Court's racing heritage. The 25-year-old is the son of veteran rider Jon Court.
"He was really excited when I called him," said the younger Court of his dad. "He's a great coach. He taught me how to switch sticks, how to get low, how to keep a horse in the bit—he taught me how to race ride. He taught me how to be innovative.
"So when the horse lugged way out, I didn't panic," Court continued. "I just kept showing him the stick on his right side where he could see it so he'd shy away from it and come back in. He responded really well."
Noting his heritage, Court said, “I grew up with the taste of riding in my blood. I watched my dad on TV when I was a toddler. I always wanted to be a jockey, but I got what some people think is a late start. People told me I'd be too big, so I didn't pursue it before. I'm 5'2" but I'm muscular, like my dad and my older brother. But my dad taught me how to manage my weight and still keep my strength, so I set a goal to be a jockey by the time I was 25 and with God's blessing it happened. I turn 26 in October."
Court got his start in 2007 walking hots for trainers Doug O’Neill and Jennie Green at Del Mar, where his older brother, Justin, was an exercise rider. In 2009 he began breaking babies for Tommy Town Thoroughbreds, where he learned to ride and work horses. He became a licensed exercise rider in 2011 and worked for Wayne Catalano, Steve Asmussen, and Jinks Fires. He took out his jockey’s license during the Ellis Park meet that ended Sept. 3.
Besides his dad, Court has even more wisdom to call on as he continues his career. His stepmother, Krystal Court, is the daughter of trainer Jinks Fires and niece of Hall of Fame jockey Earlie Fires. His older brother, Justin, now a farrier, is part-owner of Known Contender.
"I had all the right influences," Aaron Court concluded.