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North American Racing Academy

The North American Racing Academy is an accredited college in Lexington, Kentucky. It offers the only college degree program in the United States focused on producing jockeys.



Hall of Fame jockey and Kentucky Derby winner (1987 [1] and 1994[2]) Chris McCarron is credited with the idea of the school's creation in 1988 after he addressed a school for professional riders in Japan. [3]

Many countries that have thoroughbred racing requires jockey license applicants to complete courses at a recognized school for jockeys, but not the United States. [3] In 1990, the North American Racing Academy was planning was begun to start the school as part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, which is accredited by the Southern Association and Colleges and Schools. [4] The first class started in 2006.[5]

While the program is the only college level program in the United States for jockeys, there are programs in racetrack management at the University of Louisville[6] and the University of Arizona.[7]


Part of the goals of the school is to reverse the trend of foreign jockeys as typified by the 2007 Kentucky Derby face where only 9 of 20 jockeys were born in the United States. [8] The stated mission statement states "The mission of the North American Racing Academy is to develop and operate a world-class racing school that will provide students with the education, training and experience needed to become skilled in the art of race riding, proficient in the care and management of racehorses, and knowledgeable about the workings of the racing industry as a whole." [9]



The equine part of the curriculum is taught at the Kentucky Horse Park. [10] and coursework is taught at the Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) in Lexington. [11] The school's long term goals are to add more assets to the Kentucky Horse Park facilities including a 60 stall [12] horse barn, indoor arena, training track, classrooms, a dormitory, a fitness center, a kitchen and dining room, and administrative offices and meeting rooms. [11] The main offices of the school is in Versailles, Kentucky. [13]

physical assets



Coursework includes riding and horse care as well as with courses in nutrition, fitness, finance, communication, rules of racing, and technology. [3] Students may not bring their own horse for instruction. [14] The program lasts two years and are awarded an Associate Degree in Equine Science. [15]

Enrollment size

The first class in 2006 had an enrollment of eleven students who are from seven U.S. states and Canada. [16]

Student life

Six of the initial class of 11 students have never been on a horse. Applicants are informed that they should weight 120 lbs. at most. Each student takes care of two horses. They ride for about an hour a day. Afternoon workout sessions include using a mechanical horse. Can be no taller than 5ft. 6in. [17]

Notable alumni

The school expects to graduate its first class in 2008.

External links

  • Plan of future campus [1]
  • School's website [2]



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