She's riding to good health

  • Article by: SHEILA MULROONEY ELDRED , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 6, 2011 - 8:44 AM

In this week's How I Got This Body, Lori Keith, a jockey at Canterbury, says people don't realize how physically demanding her job can be.

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Lori Keith finished the stretch run.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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Like most Twin Cities jockeys, Lori Keith splits her year between Phoenix and Minnesota to race year-round. She’s back in Minnesota to race at Canterbury Park in Shakopee. She’s also back from an injury suffered on the last weekend of racing last summer. Unfortunately, she says, getting injured is not a matter of if in horse-racing — it’s a matter of when. In Phoenix, she says, there are few crowds, so she’s excited to return to the buzz at Canterbury.

AN ACCIDENTAL CAREER: I grew up doing show jumping in England. Once I got older there was a racing yard 20 minutes from where I lived, so I did that for four years. It wasn't a childhood dream to be a jockey, though -- I just kind of got involved in it and I love it. When I moved to Southern California, I decided to try race riding there. I've come to love America now -- I don't think I'd ever want to go back. I've been here seven years.

'A TOUCH OF INSANITY': On the last weekend at Canterbury last summer, a horse in front of me fell down and I went over the top of the fallen rider and horse. I broke my T12 vertebra and tailbone. I was out three months. I did physical therapy three times a week for 2 or 2 1/2 hours each session. It was very grueling, but good. Then I just got right back to it. There's a touch of insanity in all of us.

BUILT TO RIDE: I'm naturally about 112 pounds, thank goodness. If I ate fried food every day, I wouldn't be 112, but I can eat. I eat a lot of salad and grilled meats and fish. [Other jockeys] have their own means of how they diet: Some are anorexic or bulimic, some wear rubber suits to go running or sit in the sauna. ... They can sweat 4 or 5 pounds a day. Or they use diuretics -- they all have their own method.

ONE OF THE BOYS: There are a lot more women now than there used to be, but it's still male-dominated. It's one of the few sports where men and women play on the same level. With the camaraderie that goes on in the jockeys' room, I sort of become one of the boys. It can be a lot of fun. [The men] are kind of fun to hang out with because everything is so simple.

AT THE TRACK: Every morning the track opens at 5:45, and I ride till 9:30 or 10 a.m. and race most evenings from 6 to 11 p.m. I try to take every Monday off. I stay away from weights; I don't want to look like a body builder, and the horses themselves keep me pretty fit. If I ride four races in a night I lose 2 pounds. People don't realize how physically demanding it can be. Most of it's your legs, but also your arms and back for pushing or holding the horses. I hate the gym.

 

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