Riding since the age of three and racing since he was five, Hayden is no newcomer to winning races or championships. His rapid rise began 18 years ago on the 25 acres of farmland near Owensboro, Kentucky, where his family--including two brothers and two sisters--lived in a 100-year-old farmhouse. At that time, the family business was raising racehorses, as Nicky's father Earl Hayden, a former dirttrack racer, explains: "I bred 'em, raced 'em, trained 'em, and (mother) Rose exercised 'em. Rose was actually going to be a jockey, and then we got married and I kept her pregnant all the time. We had five kids in seven years, so that was kind of fun," he adds with his trademark broad grin. "When we started dating, we went to the races. And back then if the girl went with you she had to race. She raced five years and only lost one race."