A few months ago, I was inspired to write a blog about horse racing as it pertains to fan education. Thankfully, my friends at America's Best Racing (ABR) allowed me the platform for which to express my thoughts and talk about my experiences. If you haven't read it yet, it may not be a bad idea to check it out here.
I was shocked at the responses my first piece received and the fact that it generated almost as many Facebook "likes" as Racing Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens' Kentucky Derby blog, made me want to continue blogging. I am grateful to have this opportunity to express my thoughts on an industry I care so much about, and I am humbled by the kind words of so many people that encouraged me to start blogging.
Moving forward, I hope to discuss many topics from the view point of a young, horse racing fan. I will try my best to be entertaining, educational and hopefully have a laugh along the way. Thanks for joining me on this journey, now here's a leg up, enjoy the ride.
A Place Like No Other
Two weeks ago, if someone would have asked me what my favorite racetrack was, I probably would have told them Gulfstream Park in Florida. After all, the beach is located just blocks away from this racetrack, need I say more?! This all changed the moment I set foot in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Being a part of ABR's Racing 101 tent landed me at Saratoga Race Course on two different weekends this summer. Joined by Joe Kristufek, Jill Byrne, Brian Nadeau, Katherine Wheeler, Jerry Shottenkirk and Jeremy Plonk, we were given the task of educating as many people as we could about the sport of horse racing. I enjoyed pleasant conversations with people who had been coming to Saratoga Springs their whole lives. Some of these people included grandparents bringing their children and grandchildren, while others were college students just checking out the scene. It was evident that the common bond that united everyone was the high class of horse racing at Saratoga.
During our time away from teaching, I shared other great experiences with my team members. Whether it was grilling at Kenny McPeek's house, enjoying dinner with the team at Leon's Restaurant or walking down Caroline Street, I soaked it ALL in!
As Joe Kristufek and I were approaching the airline gates, after my first weekend visiting Saratoga, to our surprise, the flight attendants begged us to take a different flight due to a packed plane. Our flight would not leave until the next morning. This allowed us more time to enjoy one of the most interesting aspects of the sport that I had yet to see in my young career: THE SALES!
GO BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE SARATOGA YEARLING SALE
Watching young horses, while they were paraded out for the first time into the bright lights of Fasig-Tipton’s Humphrey S. Finney Sales Pavilion and sold for more money than I will make in a lifetime (assuming, I don't win the lottery), was a memory I will never forget.
Not knowing too much about what to look for in a horse, as it relates to the sales process, did not affect my judgment when I picked out hip number 80 prior to bidding. The final bid on this yearling was $1.2 million. Call it dumb luck or maybe call Kenny McPeek and tell him that he had a protégé in his midst and didn't even know it.
I've been told that if you work in horse racing long enough, you will come across a few disgruntled idealists. Needless to say, I didn't find any of these people in Saratoga. The people I did encounter were all about one thing, horse racing. At Saratoga, the atmosphere was unlike anything else. The local media coverage absorbed the results on the race card from the previous day and all stories related to the Saratoga races. The patrons were positive people with great attitudes and a desire to learn more about the sport. Each track I have visited has brought something unique and different to the table. However, Saratoga is a town that consists of people, media and local businesses that completely support the sport of horse racing. All of these characteristics, without question, are what makes Saratoga something truly special.
CATCH UP WITH THE ABR RACING 101 TENT AT SARATOGA