She’s your average 19-year-old young woman, but with a ‘twist’. She loves to travel; has lots of close friends, plus acquaintances on social media; and a fun job. She is Martina Rojas, and her ‘fun job’, however, is as a thoroughbred jockey, traveling to ride at different tracks. This strong, focused and passionate woman is already showing brilliance and talent well beyond her young age.
Martina and her dad, Eduardo, after her 1st win.
Photo credit to Equiphoto

She didn’t always want to be a jockey, though. “I grew up in the business. Both my parents (Eduardo and Murray) are horse trainers, and my dad was an ex-rider himself. I was born riding in the racing industry and it kind of grew on me! The more I was around it, the more I loved it, and the more I stuck with it.”

“I used to ride show horses and rodeo a lot,” she remembered. “From there, I started galloping. But I wasn’t really sure I wanted to be a jockey. You know, young people things. You don’t know what you want to be. I thought I was going to be a lawyer or a doctor, and go back to school, basically. But then the one day I woke up, and I said ‘I’m going to be a jockey. I think that’s what I want to do’.”
From that day, Martina set her mind on that goal. “I started working on getting my license, but…I didn’t tell my parents, because my dad was not happy with me being a jockey. He didn’t want me to be a jockey. So I hid it from my dad, but my mom knew.”
Her father was adamant about her career choice. “My dad didn’t want me to be on the racetrack. He wanted me to get an education,” she said.
As if he could stop her! “I worked really hard, and did everything I could to get my license. I got it, but I wasn’t ready to ride my first race yet. I wanted to wait another year to just get things settled, get more comfortable, and just learn more things.”
Martina’s dad had a horse entered at Penn National named TC Greeley, (Twirling Candy-Beautiful Greeley) last March. “He needed a rider because the bug boy that he had left to go to Gulfstream, so he was in desperate need of a bug boy, or in my case, a bug girl,” she laughed. “So he asked me if I wanted to ride the horse. And I was like ‘YES! Of course’ but at the time, I was really heavy, so I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t light enough, and it was a week out. I had to work really hard, run miles and miles, just to ride him.”
The anticipation and nerves set in before the race. “I had no clue what was going to happen. You never know what’s going to happen your first race! So I went out there, green as can be, didn’t know much, and the horse ended up winning! I was in shock! I didn’t know what to do! What to do next. And from there, things just got kicked off, and got started.”
Photo Credit to EquiPhoto

Crossing the finish line that first time was an overwhelming experience for the young rider. “I looked at Julio Hernandez, because he was next to me galloping out, and I said ‘what do I do next?’ And he was laughing because I’ve known him all my life, since I was a kid. I galloped out to the Winner’s Circle, and it was just all emotions.”

Achieving 100 lifetime wins was Martina’s first big goal. “All I wanted to do was get 100 wins before a year of my first day of riding, and I was SO happy when I accomplished it.”
What was once looked upon as a male-dominated career is not necessarily accurate today, and Martina is one of many young women enjoying a career as a jockey. “There’s a lot of girls in the game, there’s a lot more girls that I see these days than when I was growing up. There wasn’t many girl riders then, but now they’re coming up more and more. There’s a lot of females in the industry training, galloping and grooming.”
She points out, too, that a woman has a more gentle touch with a horse, and that can be an advantage in riding and training. “There’s a saying that a horse likes a woman rider, that there’s a certain horse that likes a woman rider, and it’s true. I think women are more compassionate with a horse, they take everything more easy, have more of a quiet hand than most guys. It’s just that they know. They know the difference between a male and a woman rider.”
Her advice to young girls who aspire to be a rider? “Try it, strive to be the best they can be in the business. You definitely have to work hard for it, but it’s worth it at the end of the day. It’s worth being a woman in this business. It shows who you are, how tough you can be. It’s a great business to be in. It’s something you can really enjoy, something you can have fun with. It is a lot of work, but it’s worth it at the end of the day.”
From Penn National to Presque Isle Downs; from Laurel Park to Parx; she’s excited to ride at all the different tracks. “It just depends on what type of horse I have,” she said.
She likes connecting with her fans, both at the tracks and on social media. “I talk to them in person, and try to get back to people that comment on my posts. I have a lot of fans in California, so we talk.”
With her busy career riding seven days a week, there’s no time for a social life right now, but Martina is happy working hard and enjoying doing what she loves. “My favorite part of riding is the feeling you get in the race. Your adrenaline starts running, and it’s just a different feeling. Something you don’t feel in most things. It gets your blood pumping. I feel like I’m at ease when I’m in a race, and I have so much fun. It comes to me very easily the way I feel It about it. It feels like I’m at home. I was meant to do this.”
Martina RojasCareer Stats
Starts – 732
First – 105
Seconds – 96
Thirds – 92
Earnings $2,556,344
Instagram: mlrojas_5
FacebookMartina Rojas
Cover Photo Credit to Chris Gooden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.