By Bill Finley
From a very young age, she wanted to be a jockey, maybe even one who someday got to ride in the GI Kentucky Derby. After all, she loved horses and both of her parents were exercise riders. Then there's her name.
Derbe Glass is a 23-year-old 10-pound apprentice riding this meet at Monmouth, where she is trying to make a name for herself (pun intended).
“I want to improve every day, get stronger, get smarter and learn the art of race riding,” Glass said. “Hopefully, we will do well.”
Actually, the name has a double meaning.
Glass grew up in a religious household and her mother was reading the Bible while pregnant. One day, she was reading the Book of Acts and took notice of the name of a town mentioned in a passage. According to Wikipedia, Derbe is notable because it is the only city mentioned in the New Testament where the message of the Gospel was accepted from the beginning by its inhabitants. She liked the name and thought it was a perfect fit for someone who was going to grow up in a horse racing family.
“She was reading it and thought it sounds just like the race,” Glass said. “We are a horse racing family and here was a racing name that is also a biblical name. That's why there is the funny spelling at the end with an 'E' instead of a 'Y.' That's because that is how the town is spelled.”
Though she gets asked some stupid questions–like, “Do you have a sister named Preakness Glass?”–Glass embraces her name. At the very least, it's one that trainers and owners won't soon forget.
“I get a positive response,” she said. “People think that it's cool. I grew up in horse racing and now I am riding races and have a name that fits the job description.”
She was born in Delaware and says she grew up on the backstretch at Delaware Park, where her father was the valet for Ramon Dominguez. With an early introduction to racing, she knew what she wanted to do, but her parents insisted that she take things slowly.
“My parents always told me you need to learn how to hot walk and you need to learn how to groom before they were ever going to let me ride. They wanted me to learn from the ground up,” Glass said.
As part of the process, she studied some of the riders she admired most, watching countless replays of their races.
“I grew up watching Ramon Dominguez and I always tried to imitate the way he rides,” she said. “Kendrick (Carmouche), Tyler Gaffalione, Laffit (Pincay, Jr.), they were my idols. I'd watch replays of them over and over again and try to copy their style.”
After working as a groom, she moved on and found work in Ocala breaking babies. She was just getting started. Along the way she would work for John Kimmel, Brendan Walsh and Barclay Tagg.
“The ultimate goal was always to ride races,” she said. “That's been my dream since I was a little kid. I really wanted to put in the time and years to really perfect everything before making my debut. I think the way I have done it definitely gives me an advantage. I think all young riders should get a really good foundation and learn about all the different sides of the industry. My advice to anybody who is galloping and wants to ride is that they should find a few jockeys that they really enjoy watching. You should watch them and learn from them and try to copy their style.”
She rode in two amateur races in 2019 and won with her first mount. She had intended to spend 2020 riding in more amateur races but they were canceled due to COVID-19. Instead, she came to Monmouth and galloped horses during last year's meet.
“I loved Monmouth Park,” she said. “I loved the atmosphere and the people here are so friendly and encouraging and supportive. The bug has been really hot here the last couple of years. So I made it a goal of coming here this summer.”
She rode in five races over the holiday weekend and her best finish was a second-place showing on opening day.
“I'm really excited and I feel very lucky and extremely blessed and appreciative that everyone here been so receptive and helpful,” Glass said. “I've gotten a lot of good feedback. I just want to do the best I can and enjoy it.”
Those may be modest goals, but she understands that you have to take things one step at a time. Derbe has a long way to go before riding in the Derby, but, then again, you never know.