Marilyn: Do you ride horses?
Aiyana: Yes, I ride both big horses and ponies but I like riding big horses best.
Marilyn: What kind of riding do you do?
Aiyana: Trail riding and jumping and also I’ve driven ponies.
Marilyn: When did you start riding?
Aiyana: I was three months old when my grandfather first put me on a horse, I don’t remember it but I have pictures. He was a big horse, a lead pony.
Marilyn: What’s your first memory of a race?
Aiyana: I don’t know, but the race I remember most is when Rosie, my stepmom, was third in the Preakness on My Lute. (2013)
Marilyn: What’s your favorite track?
Aiyana: My favorite track is Canterbury Downs. It’s very family friendly and there are lots of kids there. Best of all, it has a Claw machine.
Marilyn: What’s that?
Aiyana: It’s a machine that you operate with a stick and it picks up stuff, like stuffed animals. It is so much fun.
Marilyn: What grade are you in?
Aiyana: I’m in second but when school starts I’ll be in third grade.
Marilyn: Where do you go to school?
Aiyana: I start the school year in Minnesota, but soon after my mom and I go home to Hot Springs, Arkansas and then I go to school there.
Marilyn: Does your mom still ride races?
Aiyana: Yes, she rides mostly at Canterbury Downs and Oaklawn Park.
Marilyn: What are your career plans?
Aiyana: I plan to be the next Rosie Napranik. Rosie gives me riding lessons. We were going to go today but decided we’d go ice skating instead. I just learned to skate and I like it but the ice is hard when you fall down.
Marilyn: If you’re going to be a jockey you will have to very careful with your diet. Have you already begun to give up milkshakes for carrot juice?
Aiyana: No, not yet but in two years I will start to change because I like riding and that is what I want to do.
Marilyn: What about your Aunt Judy? (Judy Needham is a longtime friend of mine and a very successful thoroughbred breeder, (Roman Ruler, Mine That Bird etc.)
Aiyana: Judy is very nice; it’s hard to explain because she is really just so nice. She drove me to Pennsylvania and we made a plan. We’re going to breed one of her horses to Big Brown and make it a colt so we can win the Triple Crown.
Marilyn: What will your role in this horse be?
Aiyana: I will design the silks and pick a name. The silks are going to be a seashell with waves in the back and his name will be Atlantic.
Marilyn: How are you going to pay your part of the expenses on this horse?
Aiyana: I’ll do that by working. I imagine I’ll have to clean the stall and groom him and all of that.
Marilyn: How will you be able to get changed into a pretty dress for the Derby if you’re working?
Aiyana: I’ll really have to hurry to get home to shower and change.
Marilyn: Will you wear a hat?
Aiyana: Oh yes, I will make my own hat.
Don’t doubt that Aiyana will. She is a very talented young artist and has already created horse sculptures in clay. “I like to draw, paint and make things,” she said.
Aiyana’s dad is Joey Sharp, the assistant trainer for Mike Maker. He too wanted to be a jockey but was just a few pounds too heavy. He’s a rider though and handles the morning gallops for many of Maker’s horses. Her stepmother is Rosie Napranik and her grandfather, Mark Sharp, was a world-class amateur rider and trains horses in the Mid-Atlantic area.