Meet the ‘America’s Day at the Races’ Team: Acacia Courtney

Pop Culture
Acacia Courtney of America's Day at the Races during a 2020 telecast. (Photo courtesy of Acacia Courtney)

America's Day at the Races showcases the top Thoroughbred action from Saratoga Race Course and other elite tracks across the nation. Check out our latest interview with the broadcast team in our latest Q&A below.


Name: Acacia Courtney

How and when I was introduced to Thoroughbred racing: I watched big races like the Kentucky Derby with my family when I was kid, but my first experience close to the races was at the Northampton Fair when I was nine. I went to the window with my dad and we placed a win bet on a horse named Get My Glitter (I’ll never forget, he was the #8 with the pink saddle towel). He won, and that was a pretty exciting feeling.

Interview at Saratoga. (Courtesy of Acacia Courtney)

My favorite thing about Saratoga: The whole place seems to be centered around horses. It’s something that unites everyone here, whether you work in the industry or not.

Best racing event I’ve ever covered: Breeders’ Cup World Championships

My favorite racetrack: Saratoga

My favorite Thoroughbred racing event: Preakness Stakes

You’ve competed in huge pageants like Miss America. What’s more nerve-wracking: being in a pageant or doing live TV? To be honest, TV definitely made me more nervous at the start! I grew up dancing and was used to performing in front of a crowd, but when on camera I just felt like I was staring into a black hole. Now it’s like second nature, though I still do get a bit nervous on big days.

Other sports/teams I follow: I love college basketball (go UCONN).

Three words that define what Thoroughbred racing means to me: Thrilling. Tenacious. Emotional.

Favorite all-time Thoroughbred: Ruffian

You founded a charity for off-the-track Thoroughbreds. Can you tell us about it? My mother, Sherrie, and I founded the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Racing for Home, Inc. in 2010. Our focus is on retraining and rehabilitation for off-track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs), helping them find their forever homes. We also offer sanctuary for those who are not adoption prospects. Last year, our organization was accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA), which holds its members to incredibly high standards. We currently have 11 OTTBs in our program, and anyone looking for more information can visit www.racingforhomeinc.com.

What’s the biggest myth about riding a retired racehorse? The perception is often that they’re very hot and hard to handle coming off the track. While every horse has his or her own personality, I’ve seen so many Thoroughbreds transition seamlessly to their new career. They have so much heart and are so willing to please, and are very versatile.

We’ve heard you’re accomplished at ballet and can dance en pointe – what’s more physically demanding: riding or dancing? They are both incredibly challenging, especially when you are studying at a high level. I can’t really compare them as far as which is more challenging, as they use completely different muscles and I am in a completely different headspace focusing on either discipline. I think both are challenging and elite in their own way.

Acacia Courtney (Alex Zhang Photography)

My favorite moment from the Saratoga: Watching Elate and Midnight Bisou throw it down in the 2019 Personal Ensign.

Best food at Saratoga Race Course: Shake Shack fries

My go-to restaurant at Saratoga: Chianti

My favorite jockey: Joel Rosario

My favorite trainer: Christophe Clement

My heroes: my parents

Person in Thoroughbred racing I’d like to have dinner with: Marylou Whitney, if she was still here

Best book I recently read: “Where the Crawdads Sing,” by Delia Owens

Favorite quote or motto: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”—Marianne Williamson

Favorite animal other than a horse: cats

Favorite food: French fries

Favorite vacation spot: anywhere with a beach

Favorite city: New York City

Favorite musician/band: Sam Smith

Favorite TV show: ”Friends”

Favorite hotel: Fontainebleu Miami

Websites I visit daily: DRF, Equibase, Twitter (not always in that order)

Favorite movie about horse racing: “Seabiscuit”

Alma Mater: Fordham University

Favorite dessert: Angel food cake

Favorite drink: red wine

Favorite tech gadget: my iPhone

Twitter Handle: @acacia_courtney

Best bet for beginners: Small win bet on a horse you like.

What’s your pick: waking up for Saratoga sunrises or late nights on Caroline Street? Saratoga sunrises on the training track with coffee from the track kitchen are second to none.

No. 1 Bucket-List item: safari in Africa

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