By Rebecca Roush
Since arriving at Canterbury Park in 2007, Lori Keith has made her way into the winner’s circle after winning some of the most prestigious races. She has a career record of 532 wins, achieved at tracks across the country, and has earned nearly $6.2 million for her connections. Keith is a multiple stakes winning jockey and currently holds the title of winningest rider in Mystic Lake Derby history.
After growing up attending races at Epsom Downs in Surrey, England, she “fell in love with horse racing.” Keith would go with her father to the racecourse every chance she got. “My dad was a huge horse racing fan,” she said. “I think it may have rubbed off on me.”
When Keith was just 18-years-old she knew she wanted to make a career out of racing horses. She started as an amateur rider for a flat and steeple trainer in England.
The now 35-year-old rider came to the United States in 2005 to race at Hollywood Park. Then, just two years later Keith came to Canterbury Park. It was here that she won her first stakes race while riding C C Tat in the 2008 Minnesota Turf Championship. Keith says that race was by far her favorite. “There is something special about winning your first stakes race,” she commented. “There is so much on the line.”
Keith went on to have more successful meets at Canterbury and in 2012 she won the inaugural Mystic Lake Derby, riding Hammers Terror. She came back a year later to win Canterbury’s richest race again on Dorsett. Both horses were owned by Terry Hamilton and were trained by Michael Stidham.
While Keith will not be able to ride in the derby this year due to a wrist injury suffered last week during training, she looks forward to regaining her consistency when she recovers. “The injury could have been much worse, but I can’t wait until I can get back out there,” Keith said.
No stranger to injury, Keith has helped raise money for the Leg Up Fund, as she knows many riders who have “benefitted tremendously from this organization and others like it,” she said.
When asked why she continues to ride, being that this sport is as dangerous as it is, she replied, “I truly have a love for racing and for the thrill of riding.” It is that type of dedication that Keith says makes racing so special. “You won’t find very many other sports with the same amount of dedication after an injury occurs.”
To prepare for a race day Keith says that she often looks over the form and studies the competition. “I’m always looking for ways to put the horses in the best position to win,” Keith said. She also motivates herself by “getting excited and pumped up to win.”
Keith can often be found working with her fiancé and trainer, Mike Biehler, assisting with daily training duties. In fact, if she were not a jockey, Keith says that should would either be training or caring for horses in some way.