I always tried to do the best I could at the best possible racetracks I could do it at. But there was one other job that was even more important. I had these children, and they had to be in a place where they could go to school year round. So that's why my career was West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, kind of -- you know -- not too high up.So I'd go out and work at the track mornings and come home and have the afternoon to shop, or go to the doctor's office or school, or take a nap. I was there when the kids came home from school and I got dinner started. I'd put dinner on the table and then leave for the jockeys' room. I always had someone there, a babysitter. I never sat down to eat.I can remember times at Waterford. I'm riding three races, early and late, so I've got this time. I would bring my portable sewing machine to the jocks' room. And I said, "I'm tired of riding with all of you raggedy-ass jockeys." Because their pants would get all torn up. So they'd bring them down and I'd fix them. I didn't charge; it was just something to do so I wouldn't have to ride with these raggedy-ass jockeys. I fixed their pants.I hated day racing. I couldn't stand day racing. There's too many things that you have to handle, like the school, the doctorYou can't do day racing. Night racing is okay. It's like working a split shift. Racetrack in the morning to gallop horses for everybody, and by doing this you get the mounts. It wasn't a matter of the competition, or the bucks. I was doing the best I could at the best possible level that I could.
Donna Barton Brothers:
I remember a couple times when I first started where I wondered, "Man, am I going to have to fight with these guys, like my mom did?" There were a couple of times when I was mad enough that I would have. There was this clerk of scales up at Rockingham Park after a race. And this one rider was screaming at me and using foul language. I had the apprenticeship at the time, and I just cussed right back at him. I said, "If you have a problem, call the stewards and we'll watch the film," but I cussed right back at him.
That clerk of scales pulled me aside later and said, "I will not let them speak to the girl jocks that way. But I cannot prevent it if you're talking to them in the same way." And I said, "Gotcha! Hey, if you're going to intervene, then I'm out!" And I learned that the one thing I could always do was take the high road.Buy the bookOther excerpts