Versailles, Ky. (September 23, 2008) - Four graduates and four currently enrolled second-year students of the North American Racing Academy (NARA), along with Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, the academy's executive director, will ride in an exhibition race at Turfway Park on Saturday, September 27.
The exhibition race, five furlongs over Turfway's Polytrack, is part of festivities surrounding the 15th running of the Kentucky Cup Day of Champions, the track's most prestigious day of racing each fall. Post time for the exhibition is approximately 12:30 p.m., about 40 minutes before the track's first official race. No wagers will be taken on the exhibition race. The riders who are members of the academy's first graduating class include:
Mikey James, Glendora, Calif.; Jessica Oldham-Stith, Cynthiana, Ky.; Anna Roberts, Franklinton, La.; Matthew Straight, East Greenbush, NY. Current second-year students include: Ben Creed, Taylorsville, Ky.; Kristina McManigell, Georgetown, Ky.; Ryan Pacheco, Toronto, Canada; and Mike Straight, East Greenbush, NY. Established in 2006, the NARA is the only school of its kind in the United States. It is located at the Kentucky Horse Park and the Thoroughbred Training Center in Lexington, and is part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. NARA courses are accredited through Bluegrass Community and Technical College. Graduates of the NARA program receive certificates of course completion, which are eligible for credit toward degrees offered by KCTCS-affiliated colleges and universities.
Eight students finished the two-year program in 2008 to become the school's first graduating class. Twenty-five first-year students are enrolled for the current semester, some aspiring to be jockeys and others pursuing careers in training, farm management, and other aspects of the racing industry.
McCarron twice won the Kentucky Derby, with Alysheba in 1987 and Go for Gin in 1994. He owns five wins in the Breeders' Cup Classic, aboard Alysheba (1988), Sunday Silence (1989), Alphabet Soup (1996), and Tiznow (2000 and 2001), and was the regular rider for the legendary gelding John Henry. McCarron retired in 2002 with 7,141 career wins, sixth on the all-time win list, and was inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame in 1989, his first year of eligibility. In 1987 he teamed with his wife Judy and actor/comedian Tim Conway to form the Don MacBeth Memorial Fund in support of disabled jockeys and has been honored with both the George Woolf Memorial Award (1980) and the Mike Venezia Memorial Award (1991). McCarron also served as the race designer and played the role of Charlie Kurtsinger, War Admiral's jockey, in the movie Seabiscuit. He is this year's recipient of the prestigious Joe Palmer award presented by the National Turf Writers Association for meritorious contributions to the racing industry.