Gulfstream Begins Apprentice Education Class

Young riders to get first mandatory lesson from experienced guest speakers July 13.

Gulfstream Park held its first apprentice riding education program meeting the morning of July 13, designed to give young riders an opportunity to learn from experienced guest speakers from many parts of the racing world.

The program was pushed by former steward Dave Hicks.

Young riders will hear from stewards, retired jockeys, nutritionists, financial advisors, starters, racing management and medical staff.

"I started this program back in 1968 at Rockingham," said Hicks, whose guests July 13 included state steward Kevin Scheen and starter Jeff Powell. "It will be mandatory that all apprentice riders come to the meetings. We'll go over everything from the rules, dieting, testing procedures, and a number of other things."

Scheen showed the apprentices several videos of riders "running up into holes they don't belong" and also the importance of maintaining a straight course. Powell spoke about the experience of his staff and "sitting quietly" in the gate.

Riders attending Sunday's meeting included Arny Fontanez, Michael Ritvo, Jean Vallellanes, Ever Argueta, and Stephanie LaRicci.

"Some of the country's top jockeys have gone through the program," said Tim Ritvo, Gulfstream Park president. "We want to do everything possible to make sure our young riders have the knowledge and skills to succeed. This program will offer them the opportunity to meet our stewards and other key personnel while learning what it takes to be a top rider."