Patricia Cooksey, Legendary Jockey
The legendary Patricia “PJ” Cooksey was the first female jockey to win a stakes race at Churchill Downs and still holds the record for most wins by a female jockey at historic Churchill.
She retired from race riding on June 24, 2004, with 2,137 wins from 18,268 mounts, second only to Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone.
In September 2005 Cooksey was appointed Deputy Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission to promote the Kentucky horse racing industry in the Commonwealth and nationally. In addition, she serves as a liaison between the horse racing industry and the people on the backside — the owners, trainers, jockeys and horsemen.
Patricia Cooksey began her career in horse racing as a groom at Waterford Park in 1978. She became assistant trainer of a 30 horse stable and aspired to become a jockey.
On August 20, 1979, she won in her first race aboard Turf Advisor, quickly becoming the track’s overall leading jockey.
In a riding career that has spanned parts of four decades, her phenomenal career provided many highlights and records. Among them, her 2002 induction into the “Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame” and in the same year she received the “Vince Lombardi Symbol of Courage Award” from Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Past recipients include seven-time Tour De France winner Lance Armstrong and New York Yankees manager Joe Torre.
Cooksey worked in the publicity department at Churchill Downs and has served as commentator since 1999 for WAVE-3 TV during the Breeders' Cup, Kentucky Oaks, and the Kentucky Derby broadcasts.
Patricia Cooksey is a professional speaker and loves to share the excitement of Thoroughbred racing.
Her hobbies include reading, hiking, camping, golfing, riding her motorcycle, horseback riding and spending time with her teenage daughter, Chelsea.
She lives in Shelbyville, Ky., with Chelsea; a yellow Lab named King; a Jack Russell terrier named Jack; and three cats: Precious, Tippy and Callie.
Patricia Cooksey is also a member of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, where she is involved with the children’s ministry and “Bible and Bridle” horse camp.
If you enjoy this topic, be sure to check out our Season One Louisville Life interview with Hall of Fame Jockey Pat Day.
- Program 323
- "Louisville Life" features the first ever Derby fashion exhibition at the Kentucky Derby Museum, explores the River City with Mint Julep Tours, profiles past president of Churchill Downs Colonel Matt Winn, and visits with legendary jockey Patricia Cooksey. (#323)