HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Gulfstream Park held its first apprentice riding education program meeting Sunday morning. The program, designed by former steward Dave Hicks, is designed to give young riders an opportunity to learn from experienced guest speakers, including stewards, retired jockeys, nutritionists, financial advisors, starters, racing management and medical staff.
"I started this program back in 1968 at Rockingham," said Hicks, whose guests Sunday included state steward Kevin Scheen and starter Jeff Powell. "It will be mandatory that all apprentice riders come to the meetings. We'll go over everything from the rules, dieting, testing procedures and a number of other things."
Sunday morning, Scheen showed the apprentices several videos of riders "running up into holes they don't belong" and also the importance of maintaining a straight course. Powell spoke about the experience of his staff and "sitting quietly" in the gate. Riders attending Sunday's meeting included Arny Fontanez, Michael Ritvo, Jean Vallellanes, Ever Argueta and Stephanie LaRicci.
“The apprentice program has been run by Dave Hicks in one form or another for more than 40 years," said Gulfstream Park Tim Ritvo. "Some of the country’s top jockeys have gone through the program. We want to do everything possible to make sure our young riders have the knowledge and skills to succeed. This program will offer them the opportunity to meet our stewards and other key personnel while learning what it takes to be a top rider.”