Kennedy kicks off Midwest move with win
When one door closes, another one opens. That’s exactly what has happened to Jockey Ty Kennedy. The Hiawatha, Ks. Native recently completed the 2016 meet at Prairie Meadows and has relocated to the Indiana-Kentucky circuit. He kicked off his start at Indiana Grand Tuesday, Aug. 30 with a win aboard Classic Bo for trainer Doug Anderson.
“I’m actually based in Kentucky, but we are bouncing up here on off days and we plan to go to Kentucky Downs,” said Kennedy. “I ride first call for Doug (Anderson) and we’ve had a pretty good start so far.”
Kennedy closed out the Prairie Meadows meet with a stakes win aboard Foxy Fleda for Anderson in the $100,000 Donna Reed, which is his largest win to date in his young career. The 22-year-old completed his second year of riding in Iowa with 22 wins, landing in 11th place on the final standings.
Kennedy comes from a long line of participants in the racing industry. He grew up watching his grandmother, Barbara Coffman, ride the bush tracks while his grandfather was a trainer. In addition his uncle, John Coffman, was a Quarter Horse jockey and rode the All American, giving the young Kennedy a lot of expertise to pull from when he entered the business.
“My grandmother (Barbara Coffman) passed away seven years ago and I owe a lot to her,” said Kennedy. “She rode the bush tracks and as a kid, I was always asking her about stuff. She’s a big reason why I decided to become a jockey. She and my uncle helped me a lot.”
Kennedy’s uncle (John Coffman) had a very successful career as a Quarter Horse jockey in the 1980s and 1990s. He retired and began breaking Thoroughbreds, teaching some great young horses about racing.
“My uncle broke a lot of champions,” said Kennedy. “He broke horses like Silver Charm, Real Quiet and Silverbulletday. I learned a lot from him before I started riding.”
Kennedy’s path into racing wasn’t a straight one. Following graduation from high school, he attended Kansas State University where he pursued a degree in agriculture technology management (ATM), which prepares students to work in the farming industry with sprayers, GPS, systems and other forms of equipment associated with farming. Kennedy also helped out when he could on the family’s grain farm where they grow corn and beans, but admitted life on the farm wasn’t what he was looking for. He missed the horses and the track.
“I started off at Remington Park riding both Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds in August 2014,” said Kennedy. “I actually won my first race in a Quarter Horse stakes.”
Kennedy’s first win was recorded in the Red Cell Distance Challenge Championship on a horse named SRD Bobwirebob at Will Rogers Downs in Oklahoma. That win prompted a visit to Iowa for the Grade I AQHA Distance Challenge Championship and another opportunity for Kennedy arose.
Kennedy has ridden at Prairie Meadows the past two years. Last winter, he moved his tack to Southern California to finish out his “bug” and was tagged with a new name. While visiting the Richard Baltas barn one morning, he was introduced to the daughter of an assistant trainer. When she heard his name, Ty, she said, “like bow-tie.” That afternoon in the post parade, she yelled out to Kennedy, “Good Luck, Bow-Tie,” and Tyler Baze, who was on the horse behind Kennedy, heard the name and it stuck with Kennedy. He now wears the moniker, “Bow-Ty” on the back of his jock’s pants.
Kennedy plans to continue working toward new goals with his move to the Midwest. He hopes to follow the trail of trainers from Kentucky and Indiana to Oaklawn Park for the 2017 meet that begins in January.
“I’m going to try to build up some business both in Kentucky and Indiana for Oaklawn,” said Kennedy. “Racing and horses are all I’ve really known all my life and that’s what I want to do. I have a good start on college and maybe when I get established, I can finish up online. But, if I have a choice, I want to ride.”