Horse racing jockey Kelci Purcell looks to win at Sunland Derby

Kelci Purcell is doing exactly what she wants to do in life.

Purcell heads to Sunland Park Racetrack & Casino to gallop horses in the morning and returns to the track in the afternoon to compete when it matters, whether it’s a Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse race.

“I love the sport, I love the horse, and I always want to do what’s right for the horse,” said Purcell, who was born in British Columbia, Canada, but moved to the United States to pursue his dream. “I’m a carefree person and it’s a sport I love to compete in.”

In Canada, Purcell worked with horses in the mornings, but moving to Laredo, Texas to learn with the famous Asmussen family at El Primero Training Center helped her develop the skills necessary to become a jockey. The Asmussen family includes brothers Steve and Cash, mother Marilyn and father Keith, who have been key figures in the sport in various roles including coaching and riding.

Kelsi Purcell

“Moving to the United States was key for me,” said Purcell. “It allowed me to learn from so many people who have influenced my life and supported me along the way.”

Purcell has had her share of accomplishments in her riding career, which began in 2007. She was the top apprentice at Retama Park near San Antonio in 2008 and won the Thoroughbred training title at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico last summer.