Jockey Jessica Pyfer featured as guest speaker at RSF Golf Club women’s event

Jessica Pyfer
(Luke Harold)

Jessica Pyfer, a jockey who has ridden in Del Mar and other notable venues in California, spoke at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club on Aug. 3, sharing stories about her riding career and a new role at Santa Anita. Pyfer spoke at a luncheon which took place after a women’s golf tournament called “We’re Off to the Races.”

“Riding was never really my end goal being a jockey, I didn’t want to ride for a million years,” Pyfer told about 30 women in attendance. “I have a college degree, I have a bunch of other things I’m interested in.”

Growing up around horses — with a mother who was an exercise rider and a stepfather, trainer Phil D’Amato, who led her toward her eventual career path — Pyfer became one of a relatively small number of female jockeys. She described for the audience what it feels like in the moments before taking off from the gate.

“Once you get in that gate, it happens to me every time, everything just blocks out,” Pyfer said. “You can’t hear anything, there’s no nerves running through my body anymore. It’s just adrenaline I think at that point. Your mind just sets to go.”

But lately, Pyfer said she has been transitioning into a new role at Santa Anita doing commentary at races.

“It’s a steady paycheck, it’s not as dangerous and it’s just kind of a next step through the door that’s more of a lifetime job,” she said. “When you’re a jockey, you never know when it will be your last ride.”

Some of the milestones in Pyfer’s career include winning her first race at Santa Anita in 2020 and winning the Eclipse Award as Outstanding Apprentice Jockey in 2021.

“I’m a horse girl through and through,” she said. “I love riding horses in the morning more than racing them because you get that one-on-one contact.”