One of our own, Jonathan Thomas, hit Steeplechase Times as an apprentice jockey when he went on a tear winning six races in 1999 and seven races in 2000. The Virginian’s burgeoning career came to a crashing halt when he fell from Darn Tipalarm at Colonial Downs in 2000.
Thomas wasn’t down for long, coming back to ride races before switching gears to the flat game. Learning under top trainers Christophe Clement, Dale Romans and Todd Pletcher, Thomas is now head trainer at Bridlewood Farm in Florida.
Out friends at Horse Racing Radio Network interviewed Thomas for their Trainer Talk presented by Fasig-Tipton program. We’ve excerpted a bit here, but make sure you listen to the whole interview.
“When Sea Hero won the Derby, there was a win picture on everybody’s porch, it was like a big family. That was our home horse, that was a big deal…”
“I have to admit, Frosted knocked my socks off…he’s something else on the end of a shank. If I had to put my neck out…it would have to be him.”
“Where I grew up in Virginia, everybody grows up riding, it’s just what you did as a kid. Normally, if you’re a young guy, you gravitate to jump racing, it’s a big social scene, when I was 16 I started to ride jump races, I worked for Jack Fisher…I literally rode my first race as a professional the day Sean (Clancy) got hurt. The first race I rode, Sean went down, all of a sudden, Jack’s without a stable jockey, I was thrown in the mix. I’d like to tell you I knew what I was doing…but I was lucky to get the job done.”
“Darn Tipalarm was an established frontrunner, there was no hiding what we were going to do…it was a rainy day, we had a good jumping day, everybody left us alone, young rider, right-handed course, there were a lot of variables that helped me out. He was owned by Henry Stern, he was one of the best…”
“I asked him a question I probably shouldn’t have, he fell, the ground was hard, I took a pretty good spill…I’ve had a lot of falls, normally when you fall nothing happens, you take inventory of your body, my first instinct was to get up, I wanted to get up, I just couldn’t…eventually I could get one toe to move, I was broken out in a sweat, it was one of the hardest things physically I ever did…I was very fortunate.”