Behind the Microphone with New Breeders’ Cup Star Maddie Stevens

Pop Culture
Maddie Stevens interviewing Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. (Courtesy of Angie Athayde-Stevens)

Maddie Stevens is a 7-year-old second grader whose favorite subject in school is music. She takes swim lessons on Mondays and Fridays, and she likes to go to her friend’s house if she has free time.

Maddie also is the daughter of Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens, who has won 10 Breeders’ Cup races, and Angie Athayde-Stevens, the president of a premier marketing agency in the Thoroughbred racing industry. Since she was born, Maddie’s parents have given her a front row seat at some of the best racing in the country. 

This year, Maddie joined the Breeders’ Cup team to share her unique perspective of the World Championships week in “Maddie’s Scoops,” a series of behind-the-scenes interviews and videos of the top players and events. Maddie’s whimsical and inquisitive nature shines in the series. One “Maddie’s Scoops” is being released each day leading up to the Breeders’ Cup.

Maddie goes inside the home of Mike Smith, the all-time leader for most Breeders’ Cup wins (22). She tries to extract his strategy for a race he will run against her father (his close friend). Smith does push-ups while Maddie sits on his back. Together, they look at memorabilia from his career and other items in his home.

“We think your crystal ball is giving you good luck, so can we borrow it for Breeders’ Cup?” Maddie asks Smith.

“He said he’d have it delivered to our house right after. That was one of my favorite moments so far,” Maddie said.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

She goes to Disneyland with jockey Victor Espinoza, who last year rode American Pharoah to racing’s first ever Grand Slam — the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

“It was fun!” Maddie said. “When you put him in front of a camera, he’s not very talkative. We went on the teacups, Tarzan and Indiana Jones. On the teacups, he started out laughing and then he got dizzy. He went from laughing to ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ ” 

In another video, Maddie sings carpool karaoke with Breeders’ Cup President Craig Fravel in an Aston Martin. They each selected a song for their duet.

Maddie also interviews Art Sherman, trainer of California Chrome, her father and legendary trainer Bob Baffert along with his son Bode.

Video courtesy of Breeders’ Cup

“I enjoy interviewing people. I especially like how my microphone looks,” Maddie said. “I like talking to people I don’t know very well. They’ve seen me when I was a baby, but I haven’t met them.” 

Maddie visits top Breeders’ Cup contenders California Chrome, Tepin, Songbird, Beholder and Stellar Wind.

She brings her one-of-a-kind viewpoint to the post-position draw, the Taste of the World and the purple carpet.

Maddie checks in with trainer Dallas Stewart. (Courtesy of Angie Athayde-Stevens)

“I’m really looking forward to interviewing people on the purple carpet,” Maddie said. “And I’m looking forward to seeing all the traffic!”

When asked what she likes best about horse racing, the little reporter was initially stumped.

“That’s difficult!” she said. But she quickly came up with favorites.

“My first favorite thing is getting to go in the infield,” Maddie said. “But right behind that is going to the Chandelier Room [at Santa Anita] because I get to get a Shirley Temple.”

Maddie aspires to be a veterinarian. For Halloween, she is Elena of Avalor, the new Disney princess. The Sunday before Breeders’ Cup, she asked her mom every five minutes when a birthday party she was scheduled to attend was starting. And, she is bringing a fun sense of wonder to Breeders’ Cup 2016.

Be sure to follow Maddie on Twitter: @maddiesscoop.

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