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The Notebook February 28, 2013

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Two-Minute Lick - Jose Contreras

Jose Contreras was introduced to horse racing as a youngster when his father took him to Santa Anita Park, and he's followed horses ever since. So far, so good. In 2006, at age 21, he hit a pick six worth $65,904.

Contreras has covered the Southern California Thoroughbred racing circuit for different websites and also on his blog, where he reports on stakes races and offers tips on handicapping. He has focused on introducing new fans to the racetrack and also helped out with Santa Anita's "Tweet in the Suite" event, where fans could interact with trainers, jockeys and media personnel via social media.

Contreras studied at The University of Arizona's Race Track Industry Program, and he aspires to help the racing industry grow through fan education, marketing, social media, reporting and handicapping.  

Name: Jose Contreras

Hometown: Long Beach, Calif.

How and when I was introduced to Thoroughbred racing: My parents became fans of horse racing and brought me along once I was born. My earliest memories are from Santa Anita Park.

My favorite racetrack: The San Gabriel Mountains as a backdrop, the art deco-style architecture, the perfectly manicured paddocks, the hillside turf course, and the great racing make Santa Anita Park my favorite.

My favorite Thoroughbred racing event: Definitely the Breeders’ Cup because that is when you get to see world-class horses compete against top competition within their preferred distances.

Other sports/teams I follow: Dodgers baseball; also national and international soccer. I can’t wait for the 2014 World Cup.

What I would like to see more of in Thoroughbred racing: More mainstream TV/media coverage; more efforts to build a fan-to-sport connection.

What I would like to see less of in Thoroughbred racing: Less negativity from the people within the industry.

Three words that define what Thoroughbred racing means to me: Excitement, competition, passion.

First Thoroughbred track I ever attended was: It was either Hollywood Park or Santa Anita Park — too young to remember the first.

Favorite all-time Thoroughbred: For the attention and exposure that she brought to the sport, the new fans she created, and her amazing career: Zenyatta.

My personal best moment in the sport of Thoroughbred racing: It would have to be the 2001 Breeders’ Cup. It was at Belmont Park in New York, and it was right after the attacks of September 11. That event had a special feeling and meaning to it. It all culminated with Tiznow battling back in the stretch and winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic for the second year in a row. “Tiznow wins it for America!”

Best racetrack food can be found at: I recommend the pulled pork sandwich at Del Mar, the carne asada plate in The Vessels Club at Los Alamitos Race Course, and the hand-carved turkey sandwich with homemade chips in the clubhouse at Santa Anita Park.

My favorite jockey: It’s a dead-heat between Laffit Pincay, Jr. and Garrett Gomez.

My favorite trainer: Bruce Headley

My heroes: My parents, and all the brave men and women in the U.S. military.

Person in Thoroughbred racing I’d like to have dinner with: Joe Harper.

Favorite animal other than a horse: Dog.

Favorite non-Thoroughbred racing sports event I have attended: International soccer match.

Favorite musician/band: Linkin Park and Mana.

Favorite TV show: “Prison Break”.

Websites I visit daily: Thoroughbred Daily News, DRF, Blood-Horse, ESPN, The Paulick Report, The Verge, Engadget, Mashable.

Favorite movie about horse racing: Seabiscuit

What I like about my job: Getting to promote this amazing sport to all the people I encounter.

Favorite tech gadget: My Nexus 4

Twitter handle: @LosPonies

People I follow on Twitter: @MrsLosPonies and many more interesting people! It’s a mix of horse racing, sports, news, and technology.

Funniest fellow Brand Ambassador: Victoria—her laugh is contagious.

Do the other Brand Ambassadors have any nicknames for you so far? Jo-sey

Race event I am most excited to see this year on the ABRV Tour: All of them! But I predict that this year we will have a Triple Crown winner, so I am looking forward to the Belmont Stakes.

What are three must-haves you’ll be taking with you on the ABRV Tour? My Macbook Air (have to keep updating those blogs), my Nexus 4 (have to be able to tweet at any moment) and plenty of pistachios (I’m addicted).

What are some qualities you are looking for in a bus driver? All the qualities of Sofia Vergara and a clean driving record.

Which celebrity would be the 7th Brand Ambassador? Pitbull, just because he would be screaming “Dale!” everywhere.

What's the most money you ever won at a track? I hit a $65,904 pick six in 2006. I think I was the loudest person at the track when my horse crossed the finish line. It was pretty crazy.

Favorite horse racing digital game? Gallop Racer 2004. It was a game on PlayStation 2. I think they had more editions, but the 2004 version was my favorite one.

Where do you want to be in five years? Working in some part of this industry and continuing to help grow the sport of horse racing — preferably working on fan education and social marketing because I believe that is one of the key things this sport needs. There is nothing like introducing new fans to this sport and watch their eyes light up once they “get it.”

Favorite expression overheard at a racetrack? When someone’s horse is in front and they want the finish line to arrive already. “Wire ... wire ... wire ... wire ....................... yes!!!”

Why should Millennials be attracted to Thoroughbred racing? You get to follow the careers of the horses as they compete throughout the season in races worth millions of dollars. In addition to all the thrills that horse racing brings, racetracks also have great bars and good food, the opportunity to dress up or dress down, and the opportunity to make some money playing the ponies. The best thing is that this is pari-mutuel wagering. The house has no advantage, and we are basically betting amongst ourselves. And you can bet on the go from your phone.

Leno, Letterman or Kimmel: who’s your guy? Letterman. No explanation needed.

How did you meet your wife? At the racetrack! It was at Los Alamitos Race Course. Yes, it was love at first bet.


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Fan Photo of the week

Congratulations to Mike O'Toole, winner of this week's Fan Photo Contest!

From Mike: "This is a photo of me and 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra at Stonestreet Farms. She was grabbing onto my sweatshirt - I think she liked the image of her blaze on my shirt!" Want in? E-mail a .jpg and brief caption to photos@ntra.com!

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