Exercise riders at Churchill Downs honor Callie Witt
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Fellow exercise riders at Churchill Downs honored and remembered 20-year-old Callie Witt, the exercise rider who died after being thrown from a horse at Keeneland last Friday.
The tragic accident occurred Friday morning on Keeneland’s training track, where Witt was thrown into the air from a two-year-old unraced horse who became spooked. Witt died shortly afterwards, according to Keeneland officials.
On Thursday morning, exercise trainers at Churchill Downs wore white armbands symbolizing their remembrance of Witt.
Witt was from Nebraska, and studied at Bluegrass Community and Technical College.
Riders were noticed wearing the armbands by WAVE News during Sunrise at the Downs coverage on Thursday.
“It’s just a tough situation, but the exercise riders out here wanted to honor her,” WAVE News anchor Connie Leonard said.
“There are so many,” WAVE Sports contributor Jody Demling said. “That’s the hard part. There are so many. I think this is something that has started. And it’s something that will grow as the weeks go on.”
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Keeneland officials said Witt wanted to be a jockey. She started as an intern at Keeneland before moving into a full-time exercise rider.
Witt had been working for exercise trainer Joe Sharp. Sharp’s wife, Rosie Napravnik, spoke with WAVE News on Wednesday about Witt’s death.
“We’re all here with accepting the fact that this is how dangerous this sport is,” Napravnik said. “There’s really no words to express how tragic this loss is, but the only thing that we as a barn, as Joe’s barn, were able to take away from it was that Callie — this was all she wanted to do.”
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