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Q & A with apprentice jockey Pietro Moran

September 28, 2023

Pietro Moran, son of jockeys David and Maria Moran, grew up in Ireland but moved to Canada with his family when he was six. For as long as he can remember, he’s wanted to take after his parents and become a jockey. His first race at Woodbine was September 10, when he rode in a Starter Optional Claiming race.

While riding at Woodbine, he is also currently taking Kinesiology at the University of Guelph-Humber. Moran has a packed schedule that is organized so that he can go to work in the mornings, race in the afternoons, go to Guelph on Fridays for his labs, attend classes, and complete his homework.

Pietro Moran at Woodbine (Michael Burns Photo)
Pietro Moran at Woodbine (Michael Burns Photo)

Q: Who’s your favourite racehorse?

A: “Right now, Last Call would be my favourite horse. I’ve been lucky enough to ride her last year and this year. She brought me places and gave me experience. I’ve been lucky enough that Kevin Attard, who trains her, gave me the opportunity to go to the Breeders’ Cup and Kentucky Downs with her. She’s one of my favourites because of all that she’s done for me.”

Q: What is your favourite movie?

A: “I don’t watch movies that often, but growing up, I loved watching horse racing movies and jockey documentaries. Seabiscuit, Secretariat, and Phar Lap would be my favourite ones to always rewatch and enjoy again.”

Q: What’s your favourite part of Woodbine?

A: “I love being able to go around from the paddock to the gate to the backside. Just freely being able to take it all in and learn from every aspect of the track. I try to take in as much as I can and be the best I can be.”

Q: What are some places, anywhere in the world, where you would want to visit?

A: “I’d like to go all around the States, especially California and Florida. I would also like to go somewhere in Europe or Dubai. Horse racing is big in all those places. There are beautiful towns, cities, and great atmospheres all around. I grew up in Ireland and my mom is from Italy, so it would be cool to see a bit more there. I’ve been to Italy a few times and went back to Ireland once since moving to Canada.”

Q: If you could design your own racing silks, what would they look like?

A: “My brothers and I used to do races on the street all the time and we had our own silks. I used to be the organizer of the races and we got old silks from Woodbine. The ones I had are orange with a blue circle, with an orange “P” in the middle, with orange and blue sleeves. I wouldn’t change them up now.”

Pietro Moran jumping with a miniature horse
Pietro Moran jumping with a miniature horse

Q: What’s your favourite song?

A: “I like old-school rock music. I would have to go with something like AC/DC. I’ll go with Back in Black.”

Q: What made you want to be a jockey? What did your process of becoming a jockey look like?

A: “My dad’s a jockey and my mom Maria used to be a jockey too. Ever since I was born, I would say that I wanted to be a jockey. From a young age, I was riding, and I always had silks. I just always loved it and always wanted to do it – riding ponies, minis, and retired Thoroughbreds, and breaking yearlings. In the last few years, I’ve been given the opportunity by many people who have helped me to get to where I am now. Hopefully, it keeps getting better from here.”

“Three years ago, I started galloping for trainer Mike Doyle at Woodbine. For the last two years, I’ve been galloping with Kevin Attard. I’ve been working horses, galloping, and learning at the gate a lot. Everyone at the gate has been great to me and helped me to learn. Ian Ross, the starter, has really helped me a lot. That’s a process that I took very seriously, tried to be the best, and made sure everything I did went right and was proper.”

“In recent weeks to get my license, I was lucky enough to know a lot of trainers and jockeys and they’ve all been very helpful for me to get my license and for me to be where I am today. I’m grateful for everything everyone’s done for me.”

“I would also like to say thank you to all those who have helped me – Kevin Attard, Mike Doyle, and Brent Harris. Also, thank you to April LeBlanc, who has a farm about 25 minutes north of where we are now. I was up at her farm all the time in the last few years even in the freezing-cold winters outside breaking babies, racing minis and ponies. I wouldn’t be as far as I am right now if it wasn’t for her.”

“I also wanted to thank everyone else – the grooms, hotwalkers, riders, trainers, and owners, who have helped me and given me the opportunities. And thank you to my parents. Thank you for everything that has happened so far and to keep going from there. Nothing would’ve been possible without them there.”

Pietro Moran jumping
Pietro Moran jumping

Q: Where else would you like to ride?

A: “Santa Anita is one that I’ve always loved, especially when my dad rode the Breeders’ Cup there a few times. I would also like to ride somewhere in Dubai or at Ascott in England.”

Q: What is your favourite sport other than horse racing?

A: “Hockey or basketball. I played a lot of hockey growing up and I follow all the Toronto sports teams. My favourite is hockey though.”

Q: What goal do you want to achieve at Woodbine in a year from now?

A: “I hope to do the best I can. The obvious goal is to win the Sovereign Award and the Eclipse Award for all North America for Outstanding Apprentice. I would love to win those. I also want to ride and win some stake races, do the best I can, and ride as many winners as I can.”

Q: Who are three people, dead or alive, that you’d like to go to dinner with?

A: “I would like to go to dinner with my two favourite athletes, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, and someone from the racing world, Lester Piggott. I would say Bryant and Jordan because of their determination, the mentality of their will to win, and their drive. I would say Piggott because he’s a phenomenal rider and champion, and he’s a taller rider like me. To be able to learn from all three of those, about the drive, the passion to win, and the dedication, would boost your motivation and confidence to succeed.”

By Sophie Charalambous, for Woodbine Communications

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