At 15, Tyler Kaplan came to Lexington last year with some big goals.
He joined jockey Chris McCarron's North American Racing Academy with three aims: winning a race at Santa Anita Park in California, winning the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Jockey of the Year in 2011 and riding in the Kentucky Derby, he told the Herald-Leader at the time.
Now 16, Kaplan has only two career highlights left to obtain.
In the fifth race at Santa Anita on Thursday, the apprentice jockey won the first mount of his career on a 5-year-old mare named Soldier Betty.
"One of my goals was to win a race at Santa Anita, and I've accomplished that," Kaplan said in a statement released by Santa Anita. "When we hit the wire, it was amazing. I couldn't believe it."
The California-bred daughter of One Man Army, Soldier Betty paid $7.60 to win. Kaplan and Soldier Betty won by half a length.
Kaplan was one of four equestrian students who won $1,500 scholarships from the Kentucky Horse Council in January 2009.
The racing academy is part of Bluegrass Community and Technical College.
On Monday, McCarron said Kaplan is on a racing academy internship at Santa Anita and is completing an associate degree in applied science at BCTC.
Kaplan, a home-schooled student, took online classes year-round to get his high school diploma at 14 so he could study at the jockey school McCarron opened in 2006. McCarron said he was "ecstatic" about Kaplan's win.
"My son is now living his dream!" Kaplan's mother Heidi Clemons said in an e-mail on Monday.