In just his tenth career start, apprentice jockey Andre Ramgeet earned his first career victory by a length with a strong hand ride in Friday’s first race at Calder Casino & Race Course. He is well on his way to a professional riding career with the help of his father and a family friend on a daily basis.
“Getting a win and everything is exciting,” said Ramgeet. “Just the adrenaline rush coming down the lane, I saw that I was the only horse in front and I was like ‘Oh, I’m going to win. (It was) very exciting.”
The 22-year-old is currently under the tutelage of Calder-based trainer Collin Maragh, who is a longtime family friend. Maragh rode in Jamaica with Ramgeet’s father, jockey Andrew Ramgeet years ago. While Andre was not aboard Maragh’s horse for his first career victory, Maragh has rode Andre for many of his starts so far. Andre rides for Maragh in the mornings as part of his learning experience and has worked with him since the beginning of this year for his skill set.
“Nine months is a pretty short time to learn, but he learns really well, absorbs a lot of things that you teach him,” said Maragh. “Being a good learner, I decided to give him a start now because starting from now he will get more experience going into the races and learn more faster than when exercising horses.”
After seeing him ride in the races, Andre’s father Andrew said that his son “looks different than how a bug boy usually looks on a horse.”
“He is just calm and cool, has a steady balance on a horse,” said Andrew. “He really has a good composure of himself. I wish him all the best, and I only hope he just keeps focused, keeps his head up, and just keeps doing good.”
Andrew currently rides up north at Mountaineer Park. While he has been coming to Florida for the winter to ride at Tampa Bay Downs, Andrew said that he will remain up north to ride this winter. He watches his son’s races from up north and they keep in contact consistently, despite the distance in track bases.
“I talk to him every day right before the races,” said Andre. “I talk to him after the race, he tells me what I did wrong, this, that and I try to correct it in the next race. It helps a lot.”
At his Calder base, Andre has received many words of wisdom from various horsemen who want to help him further his career, as well as what he receives from Maragh and his father.
“I have gotten a lot of advice,” said Andre. “There is still a lot to learn. The best advice is just keep my head up, just stay confident, just don’t get too cocky, just ride my race, and put the horse in the race and do the best I can.”
Andre, who was born in Hollywood, Florida, grew up watching his father ride races and spent his summers in Jamaica going to the track to see his father’s craft. Andrew won close to 1,300 races in Jamaica, including all of the major stakes races in the country, and once scored eight victories in one day. He now rides in the United States and has more than 1,000 career victories in the U.S. Although he did not really begin riding races until he was older, Andre always knew what he wanted to do, after spending time around horses and his father’s profession.
“I have always wanted to be a jockey, but I wanted to finish school first, just in case something happens I have something to fall back on,” said Andre.
Andre spent two years attending Broward Community College for engineering, prior to focusing on learning to become a jockey for his profession.
“I have loved being around horses from day one so it has been fun to work with them,” said Ramgeet. “Now I am riding them so it feels even better.”
Andre went up north last year to spend time learning the basics from his father before returning to Florida to study with Maragh, who also helped his own son Rajiv begin his career as a jockey. Highlights of Rajiv’s successes, since beginning his career with the help of his father include three victories in the Breeder’s Cup World Championships – back-to-back scores of the Breeder’s Cup Filly & Mare Sprint in 2012 and 2013 and the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Sprint in 2013 – as well as a third-place finish aboard Mucho Macho Man in the Kentucky Derby in 2011.
“Rajiv listened to everything, never said no to anything, just practiced,” said Maragh. “If there was any problem, we practiced with it to get better, and Andre is basically the same - never says no to anything. To be a good jockey, you are going to have to master the stages. You do it step by step, and every time you master something, it stays with you. The important thing is to learn each thing little by little and not everything at once. So that is what we’re focused on.”
As Andre takes in all of the information that he learns, he makes sure to apply what he has learned to his future starts, which his father has noted.
“He is a good listener. Everybody likes him because he listens, and he is learning and willing to learn,” said Andrew. “I said ‘down the lane that is where you are going to finish and that is what people are watching and are going to see if you can really finish on a horse. So you have to save all your strength for the stretch run’ and that is what he did (on Friday). He did not get too anxious, he did not whip the horse once, and just hand rode, which is good. That shows you that he is strong.”
Maragh, as well, believes that Andre will have a successful career as a jockey.
“He has the package to be a good rider,” said Maragh. “He has a great personality. He is a humble kid, hard worker, and that is what you need in this business.”