Jockey Anna Thomas and Murray State’s favorite thoroughbred, Racer One, are ready to run during the Racers’ 2017 football season.

Murray State has enjoyed having Racer One at its games since 1976.

Thomas is only the second Murray native to be Racer One jockey. Brooklyn Hjerpe was the first in 2013.

“I feel honored because I know this is a very big part of Murray State University tradition,” said Thomas, who is a senior equine management major. “So being able to do this is very special to me. When I was a freshman, I watched the Racer One jockey for the first time and thought that I wanted to do that and would work hard for it and now here I am. I’m excited to be able to share the experience with our fans.”

When the Racers hit the field Thursday and that first Murray State touchdown occurs, will Anna have some butterflies as she and Racer One take off?

“Definitely I’ll be a little nervous,” she said. “Racer One knows more than me actually, because he’s already done this. Down there on the track, I am sure it’s a lot different than sitting in the stands. But over the summer Racer One and I have spent a lot of time together, and he’s going to help me and I’m going to help him on game day. We can’t wait.”

Racer fans get their first chance to see Racer One Thursday when Murray State opens the season at Roy Stewart Stadium at 6 p.m. against Kentucky Wesleyan.

This particular Racer One is actually named Lobo. The horse was purchased by Murray State a few years ago. Since 1985, each horse that has run at Racer Football has held the name Racer One. Many Murray State students have cherished the thought of being the jockey.

The first horse to run in 1976 was Violet Cactus, a beautiful gray mare. She is buried just inside northwest wall at Stewart Stadium. A plaque on the stadium wall tells the story of the first Racer One.

The Racers have six home games in 2017. After the Kentucky Wesleyan game Thursday, the Racers host Central Arkansas (Sept. 9), before Family Weekend (Sept. 23) when the Heritage Bank Battle of the Border renews and Austin Peay comes to town. After Eastern Illinois visits (Oct. 14), Eastern Kentucky is at the stadium (Oct. 28) for homecoming. The final home game of the season is against Tennessee Tech (Nov. 11).