McKee Breaks Cauthen's Apprentice Mark

(From track report)
Apprentice jockey John McKee broke Steve Cauthen's 1976 record for victories by an apprentice rider in the Fall Meet at Churchill Downs.

The 21-year-old second generation jockey from Hamersville, Ohio piloted a pair of winners early in Saturday's closing day card to raise his Fall Meet victory total to 25, breaking the record by then 16-year-old Cauthen in a 24-day Fall Meet. McKee's established his record during a 30-day meet.

McKee rode Alex Harthill's Broad Breadth to victory in the third race, a six- furlong claiming event for older fillies & mares, to tie Cauthen's mark. He then moved past the riding hall of famer when he won the fifth race, a six-furlong allowance race for 2-year-olds, aboard John C. Oxley's Bluegrass Spirit.

"It's quite a feeling right now," said McKee. "If it wasn't for the people, this would never have happened. I've had a lot of luck and it's good that the people here have given me the chance to do this. I thank the trainers, the owners and my agent, Eddie Campbell. Everything fell into place."

McKee, the son of retired jockey David McKee, piloted his first winner in late May at River Downs. Although he missed the first month of the meet at the Cincinnati track, McKee won the meet's riding title with 114 victories, breaking another record for victories by an apprentice jockey established by Cauthen in 1976. McKee then piloted 24 winners during the September Meet at Turfway Park to earn the second riding title of his young career.

McKee is scheduled to ride on Sunday's opening day card at the Holiday Meet at Turfway Park, and then travel to New York to spend the winter at Aqueduct. He plans to begin riding at Aqueduct on Dec. 3.