Person of Interest: Restless Rider

Cheryl Charlton

She has been one of the top three riders at Los Alamitos
Race Course for the past four years, and is considered one
of the best female jockeys in Southern California—though the
26-year-old Cypress woman says she doesn’t keep track of
her stats. Still, the 5-foot-4 Charlton is competitive by nature,
and says her most vivid memory of her first victory was of
galloping past the finish line. “I was so excited. I kept saying,
‘I win! I win!’ It was the greatest day.”

Why’d you want
to be a jockey?

Growing up, my mom and
sister and I rode horses.
I saw the Kentucky Derby
on TV one year, and even
though I’d never been to
a live race, I knew that’s
what I wanted to do.

Ever get injured?
Broke my collarbone. My
horse went down during
a race. But it’s all a part
of it. I love the adrenaline.

Are people surprised
to find out you’re a jockey?

I normally don’t tell people
what I do. My whole life
is about work; I talk about
horses all day at the track.

What’s it feel like to win?
To be honest, I’m money hungry.
Every time I win,
that’s the first thing on my
mind. You don’t get as much
of a cut for second or third,
so I want first place.

Future plans?
Eventually, I want to
get married and have a
family, and I don’t think
I’d return to the track
after having kids. But I’ll
always keep up with racing.
It’s in my blood now.

Catch Charlton racing
thoroughbreds and
quarter horses at Los
Alamitos. 714-820-2800,

Photographs by Priscilla Iezzi
This article originally appeared in the April 2014 issue.

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