FLORENCE, Ky. (Feb. 22, 2017) – Apprentice jockey Shelbi Kurtz, 22, scored her first career win Wed., Feb. 22, when she guided Fancy Is My Name to a half-length victory after a hard-fought stretch battle in the third race at Turfway Park.
Fancy Is My Name, a 4-year-old filly owned by Susanne Swank and William E. Tidd, is trained by Kurtz’s grandfather, Midwest trainer Rick Jordan. Kurtz earned the win with her 24th mount. She also has three seconds and three thirds.
“I was pushing so hard on my filly and so proud of her, because sometimes she stops,” said Kurtz. “I was so happy and couldn’t wait to gallop out and get to the outriders [John Wells, Leuie Russell and Kim Martin], because they have supported me so much and have watched me grow up. I want to thank my boyfriend, Dallas King, for making me a better rider in the last year and my grandpa for the opportunity. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here.”
Thoroughbred racing is Kurtz’s heritage. As a child, she would ride Jordan’s stable pony during visits to Beulah Park and Thistledown. She showed horses in Western Pleasure classes while in middle school but when she lost interest in showing she began breaking babies for Jordan. She also worked for her aunt, Janice Jordan, who owns Breakway Farm, a breeding operation in Dillsboro, Ind. Kurtz’s uncle Scott Jordan, Janice Jordan’s husband, is the starter at Churchill Downs and Ellis Park.
Kurtz took out her pony license at age 16 at what is now Belterra Park. She was licensed as an exercise rider at age 17, freelancing in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana and working as a salaried rider for trainer Eric Reed. When Turfway Park’s 2016 holiday meet opened, she left Reed’s stable to launch her career as a jockey. She took out her apprentice license Dec. 23 and rode her first race five days later. In the mornings, she gallops for Rick Jordan and for her boyfriend, trainer and former jockey Dallas King.
“I don’t think I’ve missed a day of training since I left high school, unless I was at a horse sale,” Kurtz said. “I’ve always enjoyed riding, and multiple trainers told me I should try to [be a jockey]. My grandpa was against it for a long time. I decided in November 2015 that I would try it but only if I could make bug weight in a healthy way and only when Dallas said I was ready. He is still a great rider and a great teacher. He and other people have taught me so much. I’ve had great support from my family and my closest friends, who watch every race I ride. I always have several texts when I get back to the jocks’ room. It’s the greatest feeling knowing I’m supported in doing what I love and following my dreams.”
Born in Westerville, Ohio, Kurtz is a 2013 graduate of South Dearborn High School in Aurora, Ind., and is currently a sophomore studying Equine Science and Management and Spanish at the University of Kentucky. She lives in Lebanon, Ky.
The bettors’ second choice at 2-1, Fancy Is My Name paid $6.40, $4.20 and $2.60 for her win in the six-furlong claiming race for fillies and mares.