Kendrick Carmouche was considered “the king” of Parx Racecourse in Bensalem, Pennsylvania with five riding titles from 2008 to 2013. He has been informed that he will be inducted in to the Parx Racing Hall of Fame next year joining eight other jockey’s in this honor. At 31 years old Carmouche and his agent “Kid” Breeden realized there was not much left to accomplish at Parx and it was time to move up to the “A level” to take on the best jockeys in the country.
He has made a big splash since arriving in New York in January and with his first full Saratoga meet almost complete he sits 9th in the standings with 13 wins. Shore Runner was his first Stakes win. He also scored his first Graded Stakes victory at the Spa aboard Swift Thoroughbreds and Bradley Thoroughbreds’ Goldy Espony (FR) in the (G3)Waya. We interviewed him this month to find out a little more about Goldy’s partner.
Q: Where are you from?
A: Vinton, Louisiana – right beside Delta Downs.It is a small town with a population of just over 3,000 people.
Q: Is your family involved in horse racing?
A: My dad was a jockey and my mom was his agent. When I started riding my mom became my agent as well. My dad (Sylvester Carmouche) retired four years ago, he broke his neck and retired after that. He rode for 25 years, and it’s probably for the best (he retired). His best horse was Hallow Dreams. He won 16 in a row on her!
Q: When did you realize you wanted to be a jockey?
A: Ever since I was born. By the time I was ten years old I was galloping horses. I knew my entire life I was going to be a jockey. It was all I ever wanted to do. When I was sixteen years old the stewards gave me my license (to be a jockey). They knew I was ready.
Q: Did you ever ride at any of the Louisiana bush tracks?
A: The first time I ever rode a race or broke out of a gate was at a bush track. That was how my dad learned how to ride and got his start. As soon as the race was over I realized that was not for me. I didn’t want anything to do with that level of the sport. Send me to a recognized track with rules!
Q: Who was the first trainer that gave you a chance to ride? Who was your first winner?
A: Everybody! My first winner was Earl n Erin (on August, 3rd 2000 at Evangeline Downs). I won four races on that horse, I was 16 years old. There is no age restriction on when you can ride in Louisiana. You pretty much start riding horses when you come out of your mom.
We went back to look it up; here is the race chart from his first win.
Q: You moved your tack to New York in January 2015. What made you come to that decision?
A: Once I went to Gulfstream Park for the winter and came back to Parx I realized it was time. My agent and I made the decision together, there was nothing else I could accomplish at Parx. I was getting bored and needed a challenge.
Q: Goldy Espony (FR) was your first Graded Stakes win in Saratoga, how did you feel coming down the lane and crossing the wire?
A: So many adjectives to describe how I felt. I was given a great opportunity to be successful when you guys allowed me to ride that filly. You come to the best racetrack in the country and its just so amazing. Think of something that made you so excited in life and that sums it up. It really is unbelievable! I knew I could do it but not that quick, just unbelievable!
Q: Which rider do you most look up to in Saratoga?
A: The one I watch the most and is the smartest out there is Johnny V (John Velazquez). He knows where he is at at every pole. You watch the races he rides and it is unbelievable. He is very smart.
Q: What is the biggest difference in riding at Parx vs. Saratoga?
A: You have to think quick. The decisions have to be made faster. They have been winning and doing this much longer than I have, you have to be on top of it.
Q: How much handicapping and preparation do you do prior to the races each day?
A:I get my past performances as soon as they come out and my agent sends me the Ragozin sheets and I study every day. I do this all at home. I don’t want to do it in the jocks room where everyone sees me studying. I make my mind up about the race at home and then I stick to it. If the original plan doesn’t work I come up with plan B at the half mile pole.
Q: How about preparing your body, how much time do you spend doing that?
A: I do 100 push ups in the jocks room when I get there. I sit in the steam room. I love the stationary bike. Sometimes when I eat too many burgers the night before I have to run, but I really don’t like to run.
Q: What is your favorite thing to do in Saratoga?
My agent and I have a boat and we go fishing every chance we get.