06/14/2013 1:28PM

Fort Erie: Morrison trying to make her mark as apprentice jockey


FORT ERIE, Ontario – Katy Morrison decided last fall at the age of 25 that it was time to fulfill a challenge and dream that had been with her for years.

After obtaining her apprentice jockey’s license, it was time for her first official ride on Whinny Pooh on Sept. 21 at Woodbine.

“I was excited as I sat in the jocks’ room, but once we left the paddock for post parade, I was not nervous,” Morrison said. “In practice over the years, I had been to the gate many times, and now, minutes away from my first race, I felt calm and confident.

“One of my strong points has always been breaking horses from the gate in the morning. That is how it went on my first career outing as we broke clean and then went on to finish fifth.”

She broke through for her first win Dec. 13 at Woodbine, guiding Monetary Merv to an 8-1 victory by 8 1/4 lengths in a maiden special weight for trainer Julia Samulak. Morrison scored her first victory at Fort Erie on June 2, winning by a neck at 11-1 aboard Pretty Pretty Girl in $4,000 claiming race for trainer Robert Warner.

Through Thursday, Morrison had ridden 55 races between Fort Erie and Woodbine, posting 2 wins, 5 seconds, and mount earnings of $69,116.

Morrison has been around horses for most of her life, ever since her parents sent her to a riding academy when she was just a tot. She quickly learned the intricacies of horsemanship astride a horse three times her height and 15 times her weight.

By age 13, Morrison’s love of horses continued, and she did not hesitate when offered the chance to hot-walk a Thoroughbred.

“It was just one step, but the first of many that took me into Thoroughbred world and down the path to horse racing,” Morrison said.

The years that followed had her learning every aspect about the care of Thoroughbreds, from grooming to galloping to shipping. She also spent time preparing weanlings, yearlings, and 2-year-olds for their racing careers.

“I shifted from barn to barn, and each outfit and trainer was a new learning experience,” Morrison said. “Two years with Chiefswood Stable had me enjoying the Florida sunshine, and my three years with Reade Baker were special.”

“I’ve had some great teachers over the years, so many that we could not name them all, and Reade was one of them. He trusted me, and I was often sent out on my own with one of the stable’s runners to another racetrack where we prepped for an upcoming event.”

Morrison has many cheerleaders these days, including trainers Steve Owens, Ian Black, and Paul and Kevin Attard, just to name a few.

“They were all great mentors, but today, without a doubt, my mom and dad are my biggest fans,” Morrison said.

Morrison is a realist as she discusses her current role.

“I gallop 10 horses every morning; some I get to ride in the afternoon, some not,” she said. “I am taking it one step at a time, and my win last fall at Woodbine was one of those steps and my recent win here at the Fort another.”

“My goal is to be the best I can be. In this game, your destiny is often determined by others. You need a break here and there, a chance to get on live runners, a chance to hook up with a live barn. All you can do is give it your very best and then hope for the best.”

Morrison may have started her jockey career much later than many, but her experience getting to this stage has her in good stead.