Students dream big at Kentucky's first accredited jockey school

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- Inside a barn in Lexington, a team works hard to get several thoroughbreds ready for a big day.

This isn't happening at Keeneland, and no the crew isn't led by a name like Baffert or Pletcher. It's comprised of students, like horse-racing enthusiast, Lindsey Gafford.

"It's just such a big rush. Everything around you, just disappears," described Gafford about her passion.

Gafford has been looking for a way inside the industry and found it at Bluegrass Community and Technical College's jockey school.

"This is the first accredited jockey school in the United States," explained instructor, Dixie Hayes. 

It's a hands-on approach in growing a well-rounded rider, that starts in January and ends in December.

"You're getting an Associates Degree in equine studies," said Gafford.

From the dirty, to the painful, to the technical -- students from around the world learn everything.

WDRB was there on an exciting day.

"What they're working on is just their ability to keep their horse at the pace we've requested," Hayes said. 

Walks, trots, and open gallops were being executed in front of a big name in the business, Joe Sharp. He's a trainer, and the husband of Rosie Napravnik. 

"This program opens up a door to people. It allows them to have an access. If they have the desire, if they have the commitment," said Sharp.

These sort of connections have already paid big.

"He's hired several of our students in the past," Hayes said.

An invaluable experience, that who knows, could end with with one of the students achieving that ultimate goal.

"I want to go for the Triple Crown," said Gafford.

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