Friday the 13th was anything but unlucky for apprentice jockey Amanda Tamburello. The 33-year-old rider won three races on the nine-race opening day card at River Downs.
Before a festive opening-day crowd she had no problem handling a shower-soaked track by winning the fourth race on Real Fun ($13.60); the sixth aboard Yore ($14.20); and the final race astride Persevere ($10.00).
Tamburello grew up in Michigan and started riding show horses at 8. She moved on to various styles of horsemanship including dressage, show jumping, and cross country.
She eventually galloped horses in Ocala, Fla., and moved to Kentucky where she worked for former River Downs trainer Ken McPeek. She won her first Thoroughbred race at 32, but an injury set her back a few months in her riding career.
"It’s a little different riding racehorses than equestrian horses, but there is still that sense of confidence I have from all my experience,” Tamburello said. “There are things that come naturally for me from being on horses most of my life. I’ve always felt the most comfortable when I’m on the back of a horse.”
Tamburello rode only a few races at River Downs last year, but intends to ride the 2011 meet at the track just outside Cincinnati, Ohio.
“Being on racehorses is completely different for me,” Tamburello said. “I love it. The experience of being in a show ring has its own feel, but it is more about timing with your horse. There is nothing like going 35 miles per hour on an athlete that needs to run. It’s exhilarating.”