12/15/2010 5:25PM

Orm does riding academy proud

Jason Stewart/patlangphoto.com
Cory Orm perseveres with his mount despite a loose rein flapping behind him.

Chris McCarron won more than 7,000 races in his Hall of Fame riding career, so it takes quite a bit to impress him. But after seeing what Cory Orm did in winning the fourth race last Saturday at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., McCarron was calling friends all over the country to tell them about it.

Orm was riding Elliday in a $5,000 claiming route when the right rein broke entering the first turn – a development that usually spells major trouble because the jockey no longer has control. But Orm, a 21-year-old 10-pound apprentice, kept his cool, and Elliday rallied late to prevail narrowly at odds of 6-1.

“To do what Cory did takes a lot of quick thinking and horsemanship,” said McCarron.

McCarron has something of a vested interest because Orm graduated in 2009 from the North American Riding Academy that McCarron founded in Lexington, Ky., several years ago and continues to operate today. Still, there can be little doubt that the feat was a rare one.

“I had a rein break on me three times in my career, and it’s scary, believe me,” said McCarron. “You basically lose control.”

Orm said he tugged on the right rein to move Elliday farther from the rail when it broke off the bit. He said he instinctively reached down and grabbed the throatlatch, the leather strip that runs underneath the jaw, and used that to momentarily regain what control he could before he became confident the 5-year-old mare would maintain a straight course with a minimum of guidance from him.

“I just kind of wanted to stay out of everybody’s way after that, and fortunately we did,” said Orm. Although until deep in the stretch it appeared certain that Clear Cut was going to win, Elliday, with Orm giving her a strong hand-ride, came flying to nail her in the final yards.

It was Orm's second career victory; his third came just two mounts later, in the second race Sunday at Turfway. Orm has a lifetime record of 3 for 64.

Orm, born in Louisville, grew up around horses just south of the city in Taylorsville. His grandfather, Jerry Orm, and father, Mike Orm, both rode races before turning to training, while an uncle, Scott Orm, competes sparingly as a jockey while working mostly as an exercise rider.

Cory Orm graduated high school and got an associate’s degree from a mechanic’s academy while also working as an exercise rider for various trainers on the Kentucky circuit. He said he would have started his riding career before he did – he did not ride his first race until Sept. 30 – “but honestly, I think I waited so long because it might’ve had something to do with my confidence,” he said.

McCarron singing his praises should lift help in the confidence department. “It was a nifty piece of work,” said McCarron.

Meanwhile, Elliday was claimed from the race from her owner-trainer, Billy D. Allen, and will make her next start for Barbara Riley.

Pedroza’s winter plans not set

Marcelino Pedroza and his agent, Julio Espinoza, still are trying to decide where they will be this winter. Pedroza, 17, held a clear lead atop the jockey standings at the Turfway holiday meet with 14 wins heading into Thursday action, and Espinoza said he has been fielding a number of inquiries as to whether Pedroza will stay or leave.

“We might just stay here for the winter,” said Espinoza, “but Oaklawn Park and Aqueduct are still in the running, too.”

Pedroza, now riding with a five-pound apprentice allowance, has racked up 26 victories since beginning his career at Keeneland in October.

Ben Creed, another graduate of the McCarron school, was second with 8 wins after eight Turfway cards.

Prairie Bayou on tap

The highlight of the four-day week at Turfway comes Saturday with the 16th running of the $50,000 Prairie Bayou, a 1 1/8-mile race for which entries were to be drawn Thursday.

The two stakes that follow are the Dec. 26 Gowell, the last stakes of the holiday meet, and the Jan. 1 Holiday Inaugural, the first race of the winter-spring meet.