LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – The final day of Keeneland’s spring meet was overshadowed by tragedy. A 20-year-old rider died Friday morning after a training accident.

Those that knew Callie Witt said she loved life and horses. This was a field she was incredibly passionate about and she had dreams of becoming a jockey.

“She was naturally, naturally talented. It just came natural to her,” Schuyler Condon, a horse trainer at Fonner Park, told FOX 56.

Before Callie’s career brought her to Kentucky, she made her mark at Condon Racing Stables in her home state Nebraska.

“She never did anything less than 110%. She was all in, at all times. And that’s why when she said she was going to Kentucky, I said ‘well that’s the greatest decision you’ve ever made.’ I said ‘if you want to learn in this business that’s where you learn the business,” Condon said.

Callie was an exercise rider for trainer Joe Sharp and a student in Bluegrass Community and Technical College’s equine program. She was due to graduate in August.

“She just brought that passion with her. She was somebody that you just loved to be around you know she was so happy, she had the biggest smile on her face, she was happiest when she was in the saddle,” Dixie Kendall, program coordinator for BCTC Equine, told FOX 56.

“It’s heartbreaking, you know as part of the program our students they’re like family, so we’re all heartbroken to hear of this loss and still processing,” she said.

The incident happened at approximately 8 a.m. Friday on Keeneland’s training track. In an updated release, Keeneland officials said, “while performing a routine gallop of an unraced 2-year-old filly, the horse shifted her stride causing Callie to be dismounted, landing on the inner synthetic training track material.”

“She was excited to go to Keeneland … I was just watching races at Keeneland yesterday and I seen her on her pony, ponying races, it’s crazy.”

On social media, an outpouring of condolences came from the racing community.

“We are heartbroken by this tragic loss,” Keeneland President and CEO Shannon Arvin said. “Our prayers go out to Callie’s family, friends and our collective racing community at this difficult time.”

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“We race today, and hopefully I can win a race for Callie today because that would mean the world to me right now,” Condon said.

Keeneland opened today’s races with a moment of silence in Callie’s memory.

BCTC President Dr. Koffi Akakpo issued this statement:

We learned this morning our student Callie Witt passed away due to a tragic accident. Today, while working for trainer Joe Sharp at Keeneland, she was thrown from a horse. Callie was an experienced rider who had been working for Sharp for almost a year. She was due to graduate August 2022.

Our hearts go out to Callie’s family, and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very sad time.

Dr. Koffi Akakpo, Bluegrass Community and Technical College president.