She’s only 26 years old and she’s only been training on her own for a few months, but Anna Meah is destined for big things. In her first eight races as a professional trainer, five of her horses have finished in the top three. Even more remarkable, one of her very first starters, named Excellent Sunset, crossed the finish line first in the Kathryn Crosby Stakes at Del Mar. Unfortunately for Meah, her horse was disqualified and placed second for interference in the stretch.
Undeterred, Meah has kept a positive attitude and Excellent Sunset returns Sunday in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar. Meah took some time to answer some questions about herself, her career and some of the experiences that have shaped her outlook.
My introduction to horse racing occurred when: I went to Portland Meadows in Oregon to watch my first live horse race when I was 7 years old. I instantly knew that’s what I wanted to do and I was determined to do whatever I had to do to get there.
How I decided I wanted to become a horse trainer: My path decided for me. I actually didn’t foresee it in my future. I had other plans, but sometimes your dreams lead to bigger and better things.
First horse(s) I ever trained was: My first runner was Sekhmet’s Revenge. She was owned by William Marasa and my husband, David Meah. Flavien Prat rode her and finished second. She was claimed out of the race in a 10-way shake.
I’d compare seeing my horses run in a race to: You can’t compare it to anything. It’s an experience all its own!
What it felt like when I thought I’d won my first race with my first stakes starter: That’s a feeling you can’t exactly put into words. It’s an accomplishment to win any race, but to win a stakes, that’s pretty amazing.
My mindset after Excellent Sunset was disqualified to second was: It was a disappointment of course, but only a small one. I know at the end of the day, my filly ran an amazing race and I’m so proud of her. She had trouble and still overcame to cross the wire first. Not only does she have the confidence but the talent, too.
Advice I would give to anyone considering getting into horse racing as a career: You have to accept the ups and downs; don’t let either of them get to your head. In racing, it’s the highest highs and the lowest lows. Stay humble, stay positive, and enjoy every moment of it!
My main goal in racing right now is: Run my horses competitively. We want to win — that’s everyone’s goal, isn’t it? Horses, trainers, staff, and clients; we all want to be in the winner’s circle! That’s why we are here.
Strangest thing about training a horse that wouldn’t make sense to people who don’t follow racing: You can’t make plans. Our horses decide for us when they’re ready and where they want to run.
My mentor is: Nobody specific. I have crossed paths with many people who have had a positive impact in my life and guided me along the way.
What I do when I’m not at the races: Honestly, I’m probably at the barn.
One thing that most people don’t know about me is: I have a little bit of OCD. I always need things to be in the right place, clean/tidy, and done properly. Maybe it’s a control thing, but it’s not easy to deal with.
Favorite racehorse currently competing: Winx. What’s there not to love about her? We all would love to have one like her.
My top three favorite racetracks in order, and what I like about each one:
- Santa Anita Park - The backdrop, San Gabriel Mountains.
- Keeneland - The environment, it’s all about the horses, too.
- Del Mar - Work and vacation all in one! Can’t beat it.
Favorite all-time racehorse: My favorite one that I’ve been involved with prior to training was California Chrome. I was able to be a part of his entire career and that was really a fun ride. I was honored to spend a lot of time around him and on his back. Being able to work him is still probably one of the best experiences I’ve ever had on the back of a racehorse.
Three words that define what Thoroughbred racing means to me: Rewarding, humbling, and emotional.
Favorite international racing event: Royal Ascot - I’m really looking forward to going one day. My husband is from England, so we plan to attend within the next year or two. Maybe even have a runner there one day, you never know!
Three ways to attract more fans to the sport: Advertisement, events, giveaways.
What is your go-to or signature bet to make at the racetrack: I let my husband do the betting, and I keep the winnings. $$ - ha-ha!
My biggest gambling score ever at the racetrack was: I hit a trifecta once, maybe twice?! I’m not a big gambler.
Other sports/teams I follow: Who has time for that?
Favorite non-Thoroughbred racing sports event I have attended: I really enjoy ice hockey games. My husband purchases horses for Erik Johnson, who plays for the Colorado Avalanche. He recently got my husband and I tickets to his game against the Los Angeles Kings. Colorado Avalanche beat the L.A. Kings 7-3, it was a really fun game.
Favorite magazines: BloodHorse
Twitter, Facebook or Instagram: I don’t have a preference.
Favorite thing to eat after a winning day at the races: For my husband and I, our “go-to” is Indian food!
Least favorite food: I love food! But I guess Italian food is one of my least preferred, unless I’m really in the mood for it. However, that’s not very often.
Best racetrack food can be found at: Santa Anita, they have great, carved turkey sandwiches!
Favorite cocktail: Wine or a vodka concoction!
What apps are on your phone: HorseRacesNow, Equibase, DRF, Pinterest.
Accomplishment I am most proud of: I have come a very long way from where I started, and I’ve worked extremely hard to get here, too. When I left Washington state in December of 2012, I packed my car as full as I could and drove to California. I didn’t know anybody, but I had dreams I was determined to chase and nobody was going to get in the way of that. I think in the last six years I’ve come a very long way. I have not only an amazing support system, but now I have one heck of a team behind me, too.