En Route To Med School, Gage Holmes Awarded Apprentice Title At Horseshoe Indianapolis by Tammy Knox/Horseshoe Indianapolis|11.22.2022|5:46pm Holmes didn’t enter racing through the traditional family ties route. She began grooming horses at Presque Isle, about an hour away from her home in northwest Pennsylvania. That was her first exposure to horses. As the 20th season of Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing season comes to a close, one jockey has led her category from start to finish. Gage Holmes, a native of Pleasantville, Pa., will be awarded her first riding title as the 2022 Juan Saez Leading Apprentice Jockey at Horseshoe Indianapolis. Holmes didn't enter racing through the traditional family ties route. She began grooming horses at Presque Isle, about an hour away from her home in northwest Pennsylvania. That was her first exposure to horses. “Riding is something I've always wanted to do,” said Holmes. “I watched all the horse racing movies growing up. It's always been something I wanted to pursue.” Holmes began her riding career at Gulfstream Park a year ago, scoring her first win aboard Kitten Street in early January of 2022. A prior position as an exercise rider for John Ortiz Jr. led her to a connection to Jock's Agent Jimmy McNerney, who brought her to Indiana for the 2022 meet. “I had my first gallop job in the Midwest for Ian Wilkes and then worked for John Ortiz before going to Florida to work for Gerald Brooks,” said Holmes. “I was trying to figure out where to go and John (Ortiz) hooked me up with Jimmy (McNerney), so I came to Indiana with no expectations. I just wanted to focus on myself and become the best rider I could.” Holmes quickly caught on with the local trainers and shot out to an early lead in the apprentice jockey standings. She quickly checked off some boxes on her goals, including her first stakes win aboard Henrietta Topham in the Centennial Distaff Turf Mile at Ellis Park after winning two races with her in Indiana. She later rode the filly in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Turf Stakes, her first Graded Stakes appearance where she finished fourth. Locally, Holmes was also accomplishing a lot. Heading into the final day of racing, she has 48 wins and more than $1.3 million in purses. Her totals are second only to Katie Clawson-Ramsey, who established the records for both wins and earnings in 2017 for apprentice riders with 71 wins and $1.5 million in earnings. Overall, Holmes is ranked ninth among all jockeys in 2022 at Horseshoe Indianapolis. Holmes has had several impressive wins so far in Indiana. One horse that stands out to her is Speedy Delivery. “I got my first win here and started my bug aboard her (Speedy Delivery),” added Holmes. “She's had four wins here this year and a second in a stakes race (ITOBA Stallion Stakes Fillies). The Elliott's (Michelle, trainer) have been really good to help me get on my feet and get started. Genaro (Garcia) has also helped me a lot here, and I appreciate that so much.” Holmes also credits assistance from veteran jockeys DeShawn Parker and Rodney Prescott for helping her perfect her skills as a jockey. “Since I work with Jimmy (McNerney) and he has DeShawn (Parker), we worked a lot of horses together and he has really helped me and given me advice. Rodney (Prescott) has also gone out of his way to help me out.” When asked what feels different about her riding after competing in 127 days of racing in Indiana, Holmes said, “Confidence in myself and my abilities. And, riding every horse like it's the favorite.” Holmes will continue her trade as a jockey at Turfway Park this winter, but she will also have another job. The 2018 graduate of Penn State with a degree in veterinary and medical science will enter medical school in January through the distance education pathway of LECOM (Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine). “The program is mostly online, so I can still get out there in the mornings and do the work and get to the races at night,” explained Holmes. “The first year and a half is mostly baseline studies before I decide what discipline of medicine I want to go into.” Holmes will be the ninth recipient of the Juan Saez Leading Apprentice Jockey award. The award was named after Saez in 2014 following a racing incident that claimed his life. Saez, only 17 at the time, won the honor in 2014. Other recipients of the award include Cheyanna Patrick, Eduardo Gallardo, Clawson, Edgar Morales, Joe Ramos, Kendall Sterritt, Joshua Morales, and Andrea Rodriguez. The 20th season of live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing extends through Wednesday, Nov. 23. Live racing is conducted at 2:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday with Thursday post times set for 2:10 p.m. A total of 12 Saturdays will feature live racing in 2022 highlighted by the 28th running of the Grade 3 $300,000 Indiana Derby and the 27th running of the Grade 3 $200,000 Indiana Oaks set for Saturday, July 9. For more information on live racing at Horseshoe Indianapolis, visit www.caesars.com/horseshoe-indianapolis.