Jockey School Students Risk Lives for Horse Racing Perfection

"Nightline" goes inside the only professional jockey school in the United States.
7:34 | 06/13/13

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Transcript for Jockey School Students Risk Lives for Horse Racing Perfection
Let's begin with sporting risk boxers linebackers race car drivers are all glory filled professions that tempt the fates with force and speed. But how -- little respect for the jockey. They don't appreciate that a line of small humans atop thundering horses leads to alarming rate of paralysis within the sport of kings. And then there's the physical demands of the starvation even sometimes -- Who would ever sign up for such a life well. The kind of horse and -- -- levers to attend the only jockey school in America and ABC's juju Chang. -- to meet them. Some players -- a bright pink riding helmet flying above the race -- The young woman beneath its brand grew up with her heart set on -- A shot as professional jockey. In the death defying adrenaline pumping world of racing -- -- up to forty miles an hour. I just love classes -- reading something -- Here in Lexington Kentucky where horses -- -- planning. 22 year old Vanessa reality is a few strides away from graduation at the only -- school in the United States the North American racing academy. She's almost completed the two year course after paying 27000 in total tuition. Students here will spend a few hundred hours riding a horse. And learning the skills required. The freshman class has twelve aspiring jockeys eleven of them women define the it's. Roughly 10% of licensed jockeys in the US are female and of the top 100 -- right now only two are women. But these young ladies are ready to man up. No princesses -- princesses you know he had been one of the guys if you believe the odds they'll be lucky if any of them make it to the big time. But first -- have to elbow out nineteen year old Marisa -- -- who knows full well cutthroat sport. You have to go into it any situation. Being humble but yet -- being in both say you know pay. On the best I can kick I -- you know it's a mental kind of dual personality and I'm going to be you yeah. Is there tension among the students -- first started writing it was basically like the movie Hunger Games full responsibility lies -- Though her competition is mostly veteran writers actors from one point here. Who has the audacity to be a -- -- never read. -- Roberts is ready to stand his ground among his female classmates as the lone stallion. All girls then intimidate me. No complaints about that but I saw that some of them were pretty get a -- and counseling thing they -- they're doing don't. Though he has been accepted into this elite riding. This is his first time ever on no homers don't get your feedback -- this -- while. But no riding experience can be a leg up here because you don't have to break bad habits racing thoroughbred requires very different techniques. And show jumping were astonished. -- Is coming along very very well he had no -- experience before coming here and that's not necessarily a disadvantage in your book. No it's not because -- world -- came -- I never -- so we're still on sixteen years of age and I was writing -- and ninety. Just -- off a little bit. Chris McCarron is one of the winningest jockeys -- time and he's founder of the school. What is it that makes agreed to it's really basic they have the greatest ability to stay out of the horse's way to the highest degree. Staying out of their -- includes -- so little reports clearly he wanted to. A -- is not be able to perform at it's optimum peak if it's -- -- hundred some pounds so during their select. Did admissions size is considered more than riding experience you better way under a 112. Pounds. Body -- expectations are far more rigid than other athletes and on par with the lowest percentage of that necessary to even survive it. You typical male jockey. Body fat percentage -- between three and seven old white trash. And the girls are between. -- -- That's incredible yeah. Compare that average body fat percentages around 25% for women an 18% for men but. The NASDAQ is a gifted writer and has the slim built but she still struggles to make way. I've stopped eating -- chocolate essayist who. No -- -- now it's not end this tying up silly. -- -- -- today it's pressure like this they can be dangerous. Sometimes easily. -- -- twenty dollars taking tennis -- they don't. Flipped it. Slang in this world for boom mic behavior and. Fortunately. Pretty prevalent problem amongst jockeys and taking direct regulation and so forth and hitting that's -- fox fox -- -- And pulling wade through perspiration. It's challenging. They will risk their health and even their lives. Horse racing is -- -- dangerous sports since 1940 at least two jockeys a year into -- a paralyzed every year. So it's lot more dangerous than NASCAR parachuting or skydiving is -- of the most dangerous professional spoke. I think if you talk to any kind of action insurance provider. They would agree. According to the jockey -- there are 48 accidents every week involving writers what about the danger. To the worry I don't. Among us. About it like a true mother -- I mean IA I fell often have -- banking catch and last summer. And you get back on the where -- -- -- -- you. When we visited the school a few months after Chase's first ride we found him on the sidelines. -- the frustrating to not been aren't yet. He'd had a nasty fall and injured his knee. Not only give I can't wait to get back on the horse that knocked me off. I thought I was -- -- be on him today but I wasn't. There's burning desire. But their chances of making millions racing horses are slim jockeys get 10% of the earnings but only if they win. Play really doesn't have a -- -- -- -- Honestly I'd be happy -- The violin and horses. The North American racing academy has a horseman halfway program to students aiming to be grooms exercise riders were ideally trainer. That users and strong steps. -- -- -- -- You get the no matter what the career path here everyone does -- work -- classes and advance but they're all here for different reasons. I don't know -- admit this but I still love -- the writing is what it's all about me misdeeds as west I get my blood -- For some it's a -- for others money. For most it's nothing more than the simple love of horses when you're on that horse they had their -- point. Feel that it -- it. We're not line I'm juju Chang in Lexington content.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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