Recognize this FACE? You should, she’s a renowned former jockey and now nabs the best live television interviews with the race winners after the Triple Crown races. Meet Donna Barton Brothers, who has been on a horse as long as she can remember. From her trailblazing jockey mother, to her siblings and husband in the horse business, there has never been a part of her life without equine influence.

Donna Barton Brothers: FACES of Louisville

What do you do for a living now that you are not a jockey?

I wear a few hats. I work for NBC Sports covering Thoroughbred Horse Racing and several other horse sports (World Equestrian Games, Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event, etc.). In addition to that, I do some work for TVG (Television Games) covering various horse racing events around the country. I also work for Starlight & StarLadies Racing, a horse racing partnership whose founding partners, Jack and Laurie Wolf, also live here in Louisville. For Starlight & StarLadies Racing, I am the chief operating officer with a focus on partnership development and client relations.

How long have you been riding horses?

Since before my earliest memory. My mother, Patti Barton, was a jockey, and before that she was a trick rider on the rodeo circuit out West. She rode horses with me in her belly, and I came out riding horses as soon as physical attributes would allow. I rode professionally as a jockey for eleven and a half years, from 1987 to 1998.

What’s harder, being a jockey or being on television?

Definitely being a jockey. First of all, there are so many demands on your time. You start your day with morning work trackside at around 5:30 – 6 a.m., and the day doesn’t end until you ride your last race, which is 5:00 – 5:30 p.m. Add to that the physical demands of strength and cardiovascular depth, and you need to fit a workout in between morning work and riding in the afternoon. Plus, it’s year round. I literally worked 360 days a year. In both jobs there is pressure, but quite frankly, pressure is a privilege I’m honored to take on.

Donna Barton Brothers: FACES of Louisville

What was the favorite horse you ever worked with or rode?

A tie among Hennessey, Serena’s Song and Hoist Her Flag. The common bond? 100% effort and a willingness to communicate.

What is the biggest life lesson you have ever learned?

Your word is all you have in life, and you are the only one who can control it. Only you can make your word monumental or meaningless. Always keep your word.

Who is your mentor?

So many. Riding? Julie Krone, Diane Nelson, my mother, Patti Barton (she was one of the first half-dozen women to be licensed as jockeys in the United States) and my brother, Jerry Barton. As a broadcaster? Tom Hammond and Mike Battaglia.

Donna Barton Brothers: FACES of Louisville

What is the best advice you have received in business?

If you want to win races, ride for people who win races. Another way of saying it is, “Don’t follow any empty wagons.”

If you were not in your current job, what would you love to do?

Be a psychologist.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I meditate daily. I’ve had a regular practice for more than four years.

Donna Barton Brothers: FACES of Louisville

What is your favorite place to go eat?

In Louisville, I love Seviche, Jack Fry’s and Corbett’s.

Where do you like to shop?

Clodhoppers and Rodeo Drive, but I gave up shopping for 2014. I just needed a year off.

What is a treat or a luxury you do for yourself?

Regular massages.

What is your weakness?

Without question, chocolate — the darker, the better (between 75% and 85% is ideal).

Donna Barton Brothers: FACES of Louisville

What is your favorite thing to do in Louisville?

Go to the track, of course!

What are three things you cannot live without, besides God, family and friends?

There is nothing I cannot live without after you eliminate God, family and friends.

Three luxuries I wouldn’t want to live without, though, are my dog, having a car and having a roof over my head, and not necessarily in that order.

What are you reading?

Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope and I Want One Thing by Frances Horn.

What are three of your “favorite” things?

My husband, reading and my daily yoga routine.


Thank you to Donna Barton Brothers, who fit this photo shoot into her very busy travel schedule. We look forward to seeing her at the track and on television this week, riding backwards around the track interviewing the winners. 

As always, much gratitude to my FACES photographer Adele Reding and her fantastic work. See her profile here:

Edition May 2014