Tyler Kaplan, a 16-year-old apprentice jockey, won with the very first mount of his career March 4 at Santa Anita, guiding 5-year-old mare Soldier Betty home in a claiming race (VIDEO).
Kaplan came from off the pace with his mount, getting her up by a half-length as the second choice in a field of nine. Vladimir Cerin trains Soldier Betty for owners Blau, Pellman and Weiss.
“One of my goals was to win a race at Santa Anita and I’ve accomplished that,” said Kaplan. “When we hit the wire, it was amazing.”
Cerin's advice to the youngster before the race: “I told him if he gets beat, don’t come back," he joked.
A native of Norco, Calif., Kaplan attended former jockey Frank Garza’s jockey school in Tehachapi and is currently interning at Chris McCarron’s North American Riding Academy in Lexington.
“Jerry Truman taught me how to gallop horses at Frank’s school when I was 13 years old,” said Kaplan. “I’ve been working horses here at Santa Anita since Dec. 18. I can’t describe the way I feel. There’s no other feeling like this. I used to come to the races when I was real young and I’d try to imagine how it would feel—standing up after the wire and winning.”
Kaplan, who took online classes and graduated high school at age 14, has his sights set high. “My three goals were to win a race at Santa Anita, become a successful jockey, and win the Kentucky Derby,” he said