Battula Rides First Career Winner
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Aparna Battula arrived at Gulfstream Park Sunday with more than a hunch that it would be a special day in her riding career.
“I knew I was going to win,” said the 23-year-old apprentice jockey after guiding River North to victory by a nose in the third race.
Battula had gained confidence in her first winning mount after riding the 4-year-old colt to a promising third-place finish in her first ride of her career on March 18.
“I have no idea how I feel, but I feel like I’m on top of the world,” she said on her way back to the jockey’s room, where she was the target of the traditional barrage of egg, shaving cream, ice and water from Gulfstream’s veteran riders.
Battula earned a degree in bio-chemistry in her native Bangalore, India, but she convinced her father, Das, to let her pursue a career as a jockey instead of attending graduate school. She researched jockey schools online and came to the U.S. to attended the North American Racing Academy, which is headed by Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron in Lexington, Ky.
Battula's victory was No. 800 for graduates of the North American Racing Academy.
"She called me after the race and she was ecstatic," McCarron said. "She came here from India and she's worked her tail off. She's got a good head on her shoulders and she's going to do well."