Matthew Straight, a recent graduate of the North American Racing Academy, will compete in his first official pari-mutuel race at Churchill Downs June 27.
Straight, 22, is the second graduate of NARA to make his riding debut in June. He will ride Bali Warrior in the eighth race at 6:22 p.m. EDT. He goes to post for the second time at 7:54 p.m. aboard Miss Sara K in the 11th race.
Jessica Oldham Stith, another NARA graduate, made her debut as a jockey earlier in June at River Downs in Ohio.
Straight came to Kentucky in September 2006 from East Greenbush, N.Y., to complete courses at NARA under the tutelage of Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron. Before graduating, he had the opportunity to gain additional experience through an internship working for Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher.
"The program is hands on, so the students really get to be part of the daily operations,” McCarron said. “It's exciting to watch them learn and grow within the academy."
McCarron and his family relocated to Central Kentucky after his retirement from racing in 2002 for the sole purpose of establishing NARA.
"It has been a dream come true,” McCarron said. “Young people needed to be educated in all aspects of the racing and equine industries so they can contribute more and have more options after their riding careers.”