Jeanne Maxwell Richardson
Class of 1971
FOTH: Where were born and where did you grow up?
JMR: I was born in Akron, Ohio .My father (PETE MAXWELL) and mother (JUANITA) were racing at ASCOT PARK RACETRACK. I was raised in ELK CITY, OKLAHOMA
FOTH: What sort of girl were you growing up and did you come from a big family?
JMR: At a young age I was very much a tomboy. All I cared about were my horses, dogs and cats .I would lead my pony up to the fence and jump on him. Off I would go with my two GermanShepards, And cats all following me on my journeys As I got older I was very interested in basketball, cheerleading ,track, ect. Though my LOVE for horses always foremost!!! We went to state playoffs all three years I played. Getting beat only by one point in finals! I averaged 25 points a game and was named as alternate All-STATE. Basketball was my second love in school, As me coming from a big family, I have one sister (SHIRLEY MAXWELL HUBBARD) and myself and both our parents are deceased. (RIP) However there were 9 children in our mother family, and 9 in our father family, So I do have a very big family in that sense.
FOTH: At a young age did you have a love for the horses?
FOTH: What are some early memories you have of going to a racetrack and what did you think of horse racing the first time you saw a live race?
JMR: WELL, I DONT REALLY REMEMBER THE FIRST RACE BECAUSE I WAS ALWAYS AROUND MATCH RACES ECT FROM A VERY SMALL AGE. I WENT TO THE TRACKS WITH MY PARENTS AND, SISTER AND I WOULD GO TO SCHOOL WHERE WE WERE RACING. I LOVED THE RACING BUT WAS MORE INTERESTED IN GETTING ON HORSES MYSELF!! AT HAZEL PARK RACE TRACK THERE WAS A PONYBOY NAMED WOODY AND HE HAD TIED HIS PONY IN FRONT OF THE KITCHEN. WHEN HE CAME OUT HIS PONY WAS GONE.WELL NEEDLESS TO SAY I HAD TAKEN HIS PONY AND HE FOUND ME AT THE BACK OF THE TRACK. I WAS RACING HIM AGAINST ANOTHER PONY. I WASNT VERY OLD THEN EITHER.
FOTH: At what age did you decide you were going to be a jockey?
JMR: WELL WHEN I WAS IN HIGH SCHOOL AND PLAYING BASKETBALL I WEIGHED AROUND 145 LBS GIVE OR TAKE. I WASNT FAT, I WAS ALL MUSCLE, I LOOKED LIKE I SHOULD HAVE BEEN PLAYING FOOTBALL, LOL..WHEN I STARTED GALLOPING AND THEN BREEZING I KNEW THEN HOW MUCH I LOVE IT, GOING REALLY FAST THAT IS,
FOTH: What steps did you have to take to make it happen?
JMR: ONE OF THE FIRST STEPS WAS TO TALK MY FATHER IN TO LETTING ME RIDE.HE INSISTED THAT I GO TO COLLEGE FIRST, HE WAS HOPING I WOULD MARRY A DOCTOR OR LAWYER. NOTICE I SAID MARRY NOT BE ONE, HA HA BACK IN 1971 WOMEN DIDNT HAVE HIGH PROFILE JOBS LIKE THEY DO NOW, SECOND STEP WAS LOSING THE WEIGHT, SO OFF TO COLLEGE I WENT OF COURSE CHEERLEADING FOLK, DANCING AND BOWLING WERE MY MAJORS, HA HA, KNOWING IN MY HEART WHAT I WAS GOING TO DO AND BE, A JOCKEY, THEN THE THIRD STEP, WAS ONE I NEVER DREAMED ABOUT, I TRANSFERED FROM SOUTHWESTERN STATE COLLEGE TO SAYRE JR. COLLEGE SO I COULD TAKE CLASSES IN THE MORNING AND GALLOP HORSES ON THE FARM IN THE AFTERNOON, .THEN CAME THE UNEXPECTED, A HORSE DROPPED ME AND IT WAS LIKE IN SLOW MOTION. I LANDED IN A BALL AND I KNEW SOMETHING REALLY BAD HAPPENED TO MY BACK, I WAS ON MY HANDS AND KNEES AND MY DAD CAME DOWN AND SLAPPED ME ON THE BACK SAYING, ( AWE HELL IT JUST KNOCKED THE WIND OUT OF YOU) WANTING ME TO GET UP, I WAS PARALYZED FOR 2 DAYS, IT WAS FROM THE SWELLING, THANKS TO GOD, THIS WAS MY THIRD BIG STEP.
FOTH: Looking back was becoming a jockey easier or harder than you thought it was going to be?
JMR: IT WAS VERY HARD BUT I WOULDNT TRADE A MINUTE OF IT.
FOTH: What tracks did you ride at during your career and did you have a favorite and least favorite?
JMR: I RODE MY FIRST RACE IN MONTREAL CANADA AT BLUE BONNETS RACE TRACK. I THINK IT WAS JUNE 3RD 1972, I WON IT ON A HORSE CALLED ROULETTS BOY, SO BLUE BONNETS WAS ONE OF MY FAVORITES. I RACED AT POCONO DOWNS IN WILKES BARRE PA, ALSO AT COMMODORE DOWNS IN ERIE, PA. I HAVE TO SAY IT WAS ONE OF MY FAVORITES. I WAS AN APPRENTICE RIDER AND WON ALOT OF RACES, MY OLE STOMPING GROUNDS.LOL, WATERFORD PARK, TAMPA BAY DOWNS, CALDER, REMINGTON, THISTLEDOWNS RACE TRACK ANOTHER FAVORITE, RODE IN ATLANTIC ALL GIRL RACE, MEADOW LANDS ALL GIRL HARNESS RACE. I ALSO RODE AT CHARLESTOWN WV, RIVER DOWNS ALSO I WAS INVITED AND RACED AT THREE DIFFERENT TRACKS IN JAPAN, WHAT A GREAT TIME THAT WAS, ALOT OF MY RACING WAS IN MICHIGAN AT DRC AND HAZEL PARK RACE TRACKS, ALSO FAVORITES, ALSO SPORTSMAN PARK IN CHICAGO. I KNOW I AM FOR GETTING SOME SO SORRY TO THE RACE TRACKS I FORGOT!!!! AS FAR AS A LEAST FAVORITE, I LOVED THEM ALL
FOTH: How long did you end up riding for and what led to you retiring and at the time you rode your last race did you know at the time that was going to be your last race?
JMR: I RODE FROM 1972 TO 1989 PROFESSIONALLY 17 GREAT YEARS....WELL I GOT MARRIED TO THE LOVE OF MY LIFE, BUT THAT IS NOT WHY I QUIT. I JUST KNEW IT WAS TIME,CALL IT WOMENS INTUITION,ALSO I WAS RIDING SOME BAD HORSES OR MAYBE IT WAS ME RIDING BAD, WHO KNOWS, BUT IF I CANT WIN I DONT WANT TO PLAY ANYMORE, PLUS MOST OF MY FAMILY IN THE BUSINESS EITHER PASSED ON , OR GOT OUT OF THE BUSINESS.
FOTH: Looking back was becoming a jockey easier or harder than you thought it was going to be?
JMR: THERE WERE HARD PARTS AND EASY PARTS, ITâ€™S LIKE YOU HAVE TO TAKE THE GOOD WITH THE BAD, LETS PUT IT THIS WAY. I WOULDNT TRADE THRILLS OF WINNING AND THE AGONY OF DEFEAT FOR ANYTHING.
FOTH: Do you think you were treated pretty fairly as a jockey when you were riding?
JMR: YES I DO, OF COURSE THERE WERE EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE, BUT HINDSITE AND EXPERIENCE I THINK IT WAS MORE ME THE PROBLEM. LOL... MY FATHER WAS PRETTY MUCH KNOWN AS A BAD A## !!! SO YOU SEE WHY I DIDNT HAVE MUCH TROUBLE, PLUS THEY WANTED TO RIDE FOR HIM.
FOTH: Tell me what you remember about your 1st win?
JMR: IT WAS MY FIRST RACE EVER TO RIDE IN, ALSO NO WHIP, BLUE BONNETS MONTREAL CANADA. THEY HAD DONE A BIG ARTICLE IN THE NEWSPAPER ASKING ME WHAT I THOUGHT MY CHANCES WERE,I TOLD THEM I JUST DIDNT WANT TO GET IN ANY TROUBLE.ALSO IT WAS MY HORSES FIRST RACE OF THE YEAR AND I HAD NO WHIP, SO I DIDNT THINK I HAD A VERY GOOD CHANCE WELL HE WON....I HEARD CHEERS AND BOOING FROM THE FANS,I DID GET A FEW NASTY LETTERS FROM FANS, BUT I ONLY TOLD THE TRUTH,I ENDED UP WINNING THREE RACES ON THIS HORSE FOR MY UNCLE A.D. MAXWELL...HE HAPPENED TO BE THE TYPE OF HORSE THAT DIDNT LIKE A WHIP AND RAN GOOD FRESH.....OH COME ON LETS BE HONEST..HE JUST WANTED A FEMALE JOCKEY, HA HA HA
FOTH: Did the jockeys get you good after the race and did you know it was coming?
JMR: YES I THINK, I WAS DEFINITELY IN SHOCK FROM WINNING THE RACE AND THE PEOPLE BOOING,
FOTH: Did you ever ride or win any stake races?
JMR: RODE IN QUITE A FEW SMALL STAKE RACES, 20,000 -50,000. RAN A COUPLE SECONDS NOTHING LIKE THE GIRL JOCKEYS NOW ARE, THANKS TO US OLD LADY JOCKS, HEE HEE
FOTH: Give me a good funny jockey story?
JMR: WELL ONCE AT COMMADORE DOWNS IN ERIE PA. I HAD A FEW MISHAPS WITH THIS ONE JOCKEY. MY DAD TOLD ME "you are not a guy you cant go back in the jocks room and whip his as?" " so next time he gives you trouble I want you to take your whip across his back and I do not care where you finish"....WELL TURNING FOR HOME WE WERE HEAD AND HEAD AND RIGHT IN THE BLIND SPOT ON THE TURN HE STARTED TO BOUNCE ME OFF THE RAIL, WELL I WARNED,IF I DIDNT DO WHAT MY DAD SAID HE WOULDNT LET ME RIDE, IT WAS PRETTY BAD I GOT SUSPENDED 10 DAYS,BUT BOY DID I PULL UP IN A HURRY AND DO A JESSE OWENS BACK TO THE JOCKS ROOM,
FOTH: What did you end up doing after you retired?
JMR: MY HUSBAND AND I DID LOTS OF TRAVELING. GOT ENGAGED IN HAWAII AND HONEYMOONED IN HAWAII.LIVED IN CHICAGO ILL. ATLANTA GA, BRANDON, MISS AND HAD TWO HOMES IN FLORIDA.... AFTER MY HUSBAND DIED IN 2002 I PLAY AROUND WITH MY OWN JEWELRY BUSINESS. WHICH I ALSO LOVE
FOTH: Did you have many injuries and what was the worst one?
JMR: BROKE LUMBAR #1 , BROKE LUMBAR#2, BROKE BOTH ANKLES, DISLOCATED BOTH SHOULDERS, BROKE BIG TOE, NUMEROUS CONCUSIONS, BROKE FINGER THE WORST AND SCARRIEST WAS WHEN I BROKE MY BACK THE FIRST TIME AND WAS PARALYZED FOR TWO DAYS. THEY TOLD ME I SHOULD NOT RIDE HORSES EVER AND I TOLD THEM THEY WERE WRONG, SO I LOST ALL MY WEIGHT AND STARTED RIDING, AND OH WHAT A RIDE IT WAS, THANKS TO GOD,
FOTH: The sport of horse racing isn't the hottest thing on the planet right now, what do you think can be done to change things around?
JMR: THATâ€™S A REALLY TOUGH QUESTION, WITH THE ECONOMY LIKE IT IS. I KNOW THY ALL NEED TO HAVE SLOT MACHINES AND OTHER GAMBLING AT ALL THE TRACKS,
FOTH: I know your going to Pimlicio in May for the female jockey challenge, do you think more tracks should do more things to help promote the sport like jockey challenge races?
JMR: DEFINITELY, ANY FORM OF GOOD PUBLICITY IS WHAT THEY NEED, ALL THEY CAN GET,
FOTH: Do you think another horse will ever win the Triple Crown?
JMR: YES I DO I AM A OPTIMIST. I EVEN WILL GO FURTHER IN SAYING MAYBE THIS YEAR,
FOTH: Do you watch or get into any sports?
JMR: STILL LOVE MY BASKETBALL......
FOTH: If a young girl came up to you and wanted to become a jockey, what advice would you give her?
JMR: I WOULD TELL HER TO FOLLOW HER DREAMS, AND NEVER GIVE UP ON THEM,
FOTH: Did you teach yourself to ride or did somebody help you and how long do you think it took you to become a good rider?
JMR: MY UNCLE AMON USED TO PUT ME ON OLD BROODMARES AND LEAD ME ACROSS THE PASTURES IN OKLAHOMA. BUT REALLY ALOT OF THE HORSES ON THE FARM WERE MY TEACHERS, THEY TAUGHT ME IF I DIDNT DO IT RIGHT I WOULD END UP ON THE GROUND, HOW LONG DID IT TAKE ME TO BECOME A GOOD RIDER? HMMMMMM I THOUGHT I WAS A GOOD RIDER ALL ALONG IN MY OWN WAY, SHOULDNT HAVE BEEN OUT THERE IF I DIDNT.
FOTH: What are some nice memories you have of your riding days?
JMR: MY NICEST MEMORIES LOOKING BACK NOW ARE ALL THE GOOD TIMES I HAD WITH MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS, THEY ARE PRICELESS,I HAVE BEEN SO BLESSED, AND ALL THE WONDERFUL PEOPLE I MET ALONG THE WAY, AND LETS NOT FORGET ALL THE WINNINGS.....WINNING.....WINNING......LOL...
FOTH: I am out of questions. Thumbs up for doing this interview, any last words, the floor is yours.
JMR: I WOULD LIKE TO THANK YOU AND GIVE YOU A THUMBS UP FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE FOR THE FEMALE JOCKEYS, I LIKE TO THINK THAT I HAVE HAD A LITTLE TO DO WITH PAVING THE WAY FOR ALL THE GREAT, AND TALENTED FEMALE JOCKEYS OUT THERE TODAY.
SO THUMBS UP GIRLS KEEP ON WINNING.
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