Jockey Journals — Trevor McCarthy

Trevor McCarthy has found a home in Maryland. After taking the circuit by storm earlier this year (finishing second in the jockey standings during the Laurel Winter Meet), McCarthy suffered an injury that sidelined him for much of spring and the early part of summer. But he’s back riding and he’s once again at the top of the jockey leader board this fall.

McCarthy, 19, could brag about his incredible accomplishments as an apprentice but, as we learned in this edition of Jockey Journals, McCarthy is a level-headed rider who credits much of his success to one former  jockey – his dad. Despite already scoring more than 100 wins in his first full year riding (even with the time he missed due to injury), McCarthy tells us he’d set even loftier goals for himself.

My dad (Michael McCarthy) was a jockey for 22 years. He rode at Delaware Park and was leading rider there seven years in a row. I remember when I was little, he would take me to the backside all of the time. My mom would also take me to the track in the morning before school and then when it was time to go to school, I remember kicking and screaming because I wanted to stay and watch the races instead of going to school. Just being around the horses and following my dad around, I knew right then and there that I wanted to be a jockey.

I love everything about horse racing. Just being around the horses, the game, the riding, the gambling side of it is cool too. Seeing all of these trainers and how they do things and thinking about how the old timers did it, compared to all of these new trainers, it’s really interesting and you learn something new every day.

My first few months of riding were tough. I didn’t know if I was going to be any good or get to ride any good horses but now it’s a lot easier. You start to develop, building your legs up, your upper body, all of the muscles you need to ride and a lot of the technique eventually comes from riding races.

At first, when I was riding at Parx last year, I really wasn’t winning much. I decided to make a move and come here to Maryland.  So many people started giving me opportunities and I just took off. I won four races opening day (of the Laurel Winter Meet) and ever since that day, it’s been non-stop winning here. I love it here. The trainers are great to get along with, the horses are good and the track is in great condition. It’s just really a nice track.

Now, on the average day, I get up at about 6:00-6:30 and if it’s a really busy day, I get up at around 4:00-4:30 in the morning. On those days, I’ll get on horses when the track opens at 5:30 until about 10:00. Then I come to the jockey’s room, maybe go in the hot box if I’m a little heavy. Here, at Laurel, I’m riding the card just about every day. When you have the bug, everybody wants to use you but but it does take a toll on you because you’re riding in every race and you’re just going all day long. If I don’t have a busy day here and I can make it up to Penn National, I’ll usually go up there and ride too.

McCarthy on opening day of Laurel Park Fall Meet.
McCarthy on opening day of Laurel Park Fall Meet.

I plan on continuing to do the Maryland-Philadelphia-Delaware circuit (7 days a week) throughout the winter. It would be nice to go up and ride against some of the riders in New York. I’ve had some opportunities to go but they weren’t the right opportunities. I just do so well here that I can’t really leave. Up there in New York, you’re riding with some of the best riders and some good bugs too. Down here, you might not make as much money but I’ll win more races.

The Eclipse Award (for best apprentice) was always my goal. Even when I was little, I watched Joe Talamo, Rosie Napravnik, Jeremy Rose and Ryan Fogelsonger here. Every year, I’d watch who won and said to my dad, “that’s going to be me. I want the Eclipse Award.” Then, earlier this year at Laurel when I started winning all of those races, I said to myself, “man, I really have a chance to win it.” But then I broke my leg (in a training accident), missed about five months and realized I’d probably out of the running for it. It’s a little disappointing but now I look at it as, I’m just going to be the best rider I can be, ride smart races and just be myself.

When I went down, I had a full break across my tibia. I had to have surgery and got three screws in it.  I spent about a month rehabbing and took my time with it so that I could come back 100-percent. It was a great feeling when I finally came back. I was a little nervous about maybe not being fit enough or losing my riding style and stuff like that. But then I won my first race back and it was truly awesome. I’d love to be leading rider at this meet and leading bug boy.

There are a lot of jockeys here that have given me good advice. Carlos Marquez and Jeremy Rose have both been very helpful. I also learned a lot from some of the guys at Parx, including Tony Black (who retired earlier this year), Kendrick Carmouche and so many other names, I could go on and on. But I definitely look up to my dad the most. He was a very good rider, very smart rider and he finished good on the horses. After every race I ride, I got a text message waiting for me by the time I get back to the jocks room. He says, “you did this good” or “work on this.” He says he loves watching me ride and both he and my mom have been fully supportive, which has been great.

My most memorable moment so far was my first stakes win. It was the first stakes race I had ever rode and I was so nervous. I remember asking Kendrick Carmouche, “what was your first stakes race like?” He told me that he won it. I said to him, “oh man, that’s awesome,” and then I started thinking to myself, what if I win my first stakes race? The weather that day was awful and the track was muddy. The horse’s name was Concealed Identity and he won, paid $17. It was incredible and I’ll never forget it. Another amazing memory was winning those four races on January 1. I didn’t even think of winning two or three races on a card at the time, let alone four! It was a pretty cool experience.

NOTE: McCarthy repeated the feat after we compiled this Jockey Journal, winning four races on Saturday, October 12, at Laurel Park. 

McCarthy, after his second four-win card, on Saturday, October 12.  Photo Courtesy: Jim McCue/MJC
McCarthy, after his second four-win card, on Saturday, October 12.
Photo Courtesy: Jim McCue/MJC

The Jockey Journal above was transcribed from an interview with and solely reflects the words and thoughts of Trevor McCarthy. We thank him for sharing some time with us and wish him continued success.

3 thoughts on “Jockey Journals — Trevor McCarthy”

  1. This kid can really ride! Gets the most out of his mounts and he still has a lot of rm for improvement. Did not know he was 19 year old. Look even younger than that! All best going ahead.

  2. So happy and proud of Trevor! He has always been the hardest working kid I know. Honest, happy and just a truly nice boy from a wonderful family. His family is proud for good reason, and they should be proud of themselves for instilling just values in him and his siblings! Love the McCarthys’

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