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Interviews

Interview with Ken Patin, Jockey and Valet

Interviewed by Tricia Psarreas on January 23, 2008

Throughout his life, Ken Patin has always been extremely involved in the world of horse racing. His unique position as jockey and valet gives him great insight into what happens on and off the racetrack. That combined with his uncanny honesty make Ken an invaluable resource, as is evident by this interview.

Tricia:             How did you meet Shane and what is your relationship with him?

Ken:                I met Shane when he started riding at Evangeline Downs. I knew of him and I heard of him from the bush track days, but I never rode against him until he came to Evangeline. I heard about him and people had said that he was going to be the most upcoming rider in Louisiana at a young age. I rode with him and I rode against him, and I never had a conflict against him. I rode to beat him and he rode to beat me, but that was the business we were in. But we never had any conflict against each other.

Tricia:             Without naming names, have you witnessed jockeys cheating the scales?

Ken:                Oh yeah, we all cheated the scales. I did when I was riding. I didn’t do it that much, but I did go about three or pounds over. That’s common. Some clerks of scales are more lenient than others. Some don’t put you on the scales and others are very lenient on what you’ve got to do.

 

Tricia:             Did you ever get caught trying to cheat the scales?

Ken:                Sort of. One time I was taken off a horse because another rider tried to fiddle with the scale and I had to get off the horse. He put some sponges underneath it. I guess that eliminates the maximum weight that you are when you’re on it.


I didn’t have any doubt that it was going on, but I got blamed for it. I had to get off my horse because of it. I didn’t like it, I bitched about it and argued about it, and I didn’t say no names, but I knew it wasn’t right. I had been in the hot box and pulled 15 pounds in four days. It just wasn’t right.

 

Tricia:             Over the years, did you witness, as a valet, other riders ride overweight?

Ken:                I don’t see anyone doing the pads and the scales, but I see a lot of riders not getting on the scale. It’s different at various tracks. If I’m a valet for a certain rider and his horse is heavy, I’m going to put him under what he was supposed to be. But other than that, they aint gonna get on a scale. The only reason I’m going to put my rider on the scale is to make sure he isn’t too heavy.

 

Tricia:             From what you’ve seen, do a lot of jockeys ride overweight?

Ken:                It depends on their body sizes and on the riders. The majority around the country, I would say yes.

Tricia:             Since the Churchill Downs incident, have you ever heard an explanation for Shane’s banishment from the establishment?

Ken:                No. When Shane’s name comes up, people aren’t going to talk to me about it. To be totally honest, they know how close he and I are. They know that I’m a lot like him. I’m not scared of no man.

They think Shane’s out to get the world. I’ve had to say a couple of times, “Okay, this guy got ya’ll a million dollar policy and ya’ll still talking about him.” One time I got so mad that I had to leave work because I knew something would have happened. That’s just how I am. Shane wanted to take on the world and he did. Now where are ya’ll?

I’m close to Shane and I can tell him that. Not a lot of people can tell him that. When he was down in the dumps, I was the only one calling him. We were brothers and I made a good living with the guy. But it’s just the idea. They dropped him on the dime on a hat and that’s one thing I resent. I feel sorry for him. Here’s a rider who won over 4,000 races – one of the best riders from Louisiana – and he did nothing but good for ya’ll but ya’ll just left him off the map. I just want the world to know that this is one of the world’s greatest riders – not that I worked for, that I rode against. This is Shane Sellers. He was one of the best in the country and even out of the country. He rode in Hong Kong; in Japan. You don’t just ride over there if you don’t got the ability to ride.

 

Tricia:             Do you think that jockeys at least appreciate what Shane did for them?

Ken:                No, no. Nuh uh. No. And I think that’s what hurts me the most. I’ll be in a room with riders who don’t appreciate what he’s done for them. Not what he’s done for them, but what it cost him. I believe Shane retired too young, not only because it hurt my pocket, but because he could have rode on top for a couple more years. I don’t hold that against Shane, but I know I could have made more with him as a rider. When Shane was riding, that was the only rider I had. That was the only rider I wanted. What I’m trying to say in longevity is that I think he would have accomplished more if he had kept riding. You’ve got to understand something. Not many riders from Louisiana win 4,000 races. You’ve got to be able to ride and Shane is a race rider and he could ride. Shane was a smart race rider and nobody appreciates that either.

 

Tricia:             Do you support all of Shane’s fights?

Ken:                Yes ma’am I do. There’s no doubt in my mind that he changed the industry. See Miss Tricia, I’m going to tell you this. The riders today think Shane is out to hurt them because he went off on his way and they forget about him; about what he done for them and about what he got for them. Without Shane doing what he did, there wouldn’t be no one million dollar policy. There would be no advancement in the weights. He got that all. Shane took on the world and he beat them.

And the bad thing about it is that nobody appreciates what he did and that hurts me. If they had stuck by and supported him, as a valet, I would still have Shane Sellers. And that makes me mad because Shane Sellers is one hell of a man to work for. He was one hell of a man to cook for! I’ve never had the chance to tell that to Shane, but that’s how I feel. What they did to him and how bad they hurt him is what they did to me. I cry every night. He was a joy to live with and a joy to work for. I did anything for him. That’s how close we are. I just think the state of Louisiana lost one of their favorite sons as a rider and that’s what hurts. Not because I worked for him, but because of the ambition and integrity that we brought to the sport in which we live in and which contributes a lot to the state. That hurts. It really does.

 

Tricia:             Do you have anything else that you would like to add, Ken?

Ken:                This boy, well this man, went out of his way to help the world and the people in it. I’m talking about getting riders out of jail, helping riders financially, giving riders tack to ride, and they forgot about him. I just don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. He helped so many young riders in the business who didn’t have nothing and so many riders want nothing to do with him and that’s what really hurts. So the only thing I can say to those people is that I feel they’re wrong to forget about Shane Sellers. I think he’s done too much – so much – to help other riders. For them just to throw him away like a wet rag. And the only one calling him today is his valet. The others don’t care and I just can’t understand that. I don’t know the reason. If someone could give a reason I would sure want to hear it. Someone tell me. But they won’t because they know who I am and they won’t say nothing. Here you have a legend. I mean, he’s a legend. And they just dropped him down like a dime on a map? No, I couldn’t do that to nobody.

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