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What Inspired You To Get Interested In Racing?

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  • What Inspired You To Get Interested In Racing?

    I've borrowed this from ITV's Royal Ascot Twitter: "What inspired you to get into racing?"

    I don't really do Twitter, so I am asking my question here, and it is for everyone who loves racing, whether you watch on TV, go to the track, own, train, ride, exercise, groom, hot-walk, read, whatever --

    What inspired you to get into racing?

    For me it was Walter Farley, and National Velvet, and Marguerite Henry, and then learning I could watch the Kentucky Derby live on TV, in 1962.
    Rack on!

  • #2
    Genuine Risk. I'd read Walter Farley and all, but her Derby was the first race I ever saw on TV, the first time that I actually saw it happening live in front of my eyes, not reading it in a book. It brought it to life. This wasn't just fiction but a whole world out there.

    Someday when I have enough money to burn on it (realizing I'll probably run a negative balance for the sport), I do hope to have a racehorse.
    Now available in Kindle as well as print: C-Sharp Minor: My Mother's Seventeen-Year Journey through Dementia. 10% of my proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer's Association.


    • #3
      My first OTTBs.

      Also, my first OTTBs were given to me by the likes of wonderful racing horsemen and women. Salt of the Earth people... Hall of Famers and stuff, who said things like, "Thank you for giving my horse a good home, please feel free to come visit our farm anytime. And call me if you ever need a job." Their simple kindness and gratitude made me love the sport even more.
      Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


      • #4
        My Dad - he had racehorses since before I was born. Then there was a prominent racehorse owner who gave Pony Club lectures in his beautiful home. I still remember his talk on "superimposing our minds onto our horses" when I didn't even know what superimposing meant - but he explained it to us. That was about 65 years ago!. And also, because without race horses we would not have the benefit of the wonderful veterinary treatments available to us today....and I guess that inner passion for horses in general.
        Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


        • #5
          I grew up in Baltimore, and was horse obsessed as a kid. Rode a bit as a kid and got my first job ever walking hots at Pimlico. Recognized early on that the money was in racing and WOW someone would pay me to gallop horses! It was the perfect job until it wasn't. Now I'm just a small-time owner.
          "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."


          • #6
            Back in the dark ages the LA Times had a regular racing column in their sports section, and the local TV station had the Feature Race of the Week on Saturday. Always a horse lover, this was just up my alley. My mother was both a small-time gambler and liked horses, so every now and then we would go to the track. The very first feature race I remember was at Santa Anita, and I remember one of the betters advising my mom, "Bet the entry, you get two tries." Part of that particular entry was Round Table, who was beginning his three-year-old campaign. Fan ever since, though it has ebbed and flowed through the years.

            And of course, the Black Stallion books and a myriad of other horse books...


            • #7
              Watching the 1996 Breeders Cup as a 10 year old and a certain grey blur in the stretch in the Sprint. It looked like Lit de Justice had wings.


              • #8
                Fair time, eons ago. I was prone to sneaking away and heading to the race barns, My father caught me, dragged me to the rail and told me not to move and I just stood there, watching the horses and drivers and thought it was great...he had to drag me away when he was ready to leave. Never lost my fascination with racing, harness racing in particular and when I was on my own, wanted extra work so went to the race barns and snagged me a grooming job during spring training.
                Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

                Member: Incredible Invisbles


                • #9
                  I suppose the first time I read about horse racing was the Black Stallion. I'm old enough to remember watching Secretariat winning the triple crown. So amazing. I had a quarter type former rental string horse for my first horse at age 13 but had to sell him when I went to College. Then I was out of horses for many many years. I was always drawn to english riding and jumping and I really, really, liked the idea of getting an OTTB. I did my fair share of research over the years on what it involves. I finally got my second (and current) horse who is an OTTB when I was in my mid 40's. I love her. I love the TB mind and how smart they are. I watch horse racing on TV but have actually only gone to the races once (Golden Gate fields). Someday I would love to see the Kentucky Derby.


                  • #10
                    Our farrier when I was a kid was a race trainer, owner, breeder, exercise rider, and retired jockey. He was a "horseman" in the true sense of the word. He became a close friend of my family. His knowledge was infective to me. He broke the TB yearling colt my parents bought for me when I was 12, and which I rode through all my junior years and into local Grand Prix jumper classes by the end of his career. My parents bought in with a 1/3 share on an $800 yearling we purchased at the yearling sale in about 1973. Her name was "Gun Music". She raced successfully for years, but died on the BC Ferry accident in 1979 (?), when the Queen of Alberni went up on the rocks, and the tide went out, and the vehicles fell into each other. But she was successful, though low level claimer. We winter boarded his horses a few times, and when I turned 16 and was old enough to be licensed and drive to work, I went to work for him as a groom at the local semi deserted training track. His barn was well run, and joyful, and the horses were loved. People came by to visit often, local horsemen. They would come by just to be in the vicinity of this guy, he had stories to tell that were told at coffee time in the tack room. I got to sit there, quietly, in the corner, and listen. Stories about racing, horses, people that he had known and been involved with decades earlier. I never felt so lucky as to be there, in the corner, hearing things that only came from this source. Extremely bad dirty jokes abounded, quite unacceptable. I wish I had written it all down.

                    This trainer would NOT teach me to gallop racehorses. He was "old school", and "girls were not strong enough". End of story. There was no arguing. The boss had made a judgement, and that was IT. He came to my horse shows, saw me ride there and jump some big jumps, but it made no difference. I wanted to learn to gallop, but it just was NOT something that he was going to do. Because as the man, it would be his fault if (when) I got hurt. So, no way, no how. But he did teach me to pony, on his lead pony, Quiz. And laughed at me when the pony ran off with me LOL. But I did learn. Both to pony, and a whole lot of other things too, I am still so thankful for that opportunity. Then, he died. He was 56 years old, massive heart attack. And I was cut loose in the equine world, to do the best I could, with what I had learned so far. It was scary, I was 23. Another trainer who was stabled near us asked me that fall if I was gonna come and gallop his horses the following spring? "Yes". He legged me up on his old campaigner (a run off artist I later heard), and said, "go twice around". He was a sweet old guy, and knew I was desperate to gallop. I later gave him shit for putting me on the run off artist. He said, "Best to start on a tough one, that way you don't think it's easy". I finished my university degree (Biology/Microbiology/Biochemistry). Then went to work at the racetrack, with lead ponies. My family was raising our first TB race bred yearlings (2 fillies), and I wrote my trainer's test the following year, 1985. I was helped by a variety of other trainers and jockeys that year, and for years afterwards. My first filly to start, as a 2 yr old going 3 1/2 furlongs, won her race impressively. I thought I was gonna die, I was so happy.


                    • #11
                      gumtree has not been active lately, hopefully all is OK.
                      "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."


                      • #12
                        While living in Northern Virginia back in 1987 I picked up a free pass to the Charlestown Races. As soon as I walked through the doors I was hooked on racing and betting. Mentioned to a co-worker about going and he said, "Let's go to Pimlico, you'll see better horses there." Hooked even more. The EX-wife split during that time and even though I moved back to NC I still followed the races the best I could and even took vacations centered around racing. Decided that if I learned more about horses and their behavior then maybe I'd be better at the windows, so then came riding lessons. The riding lessons became too costly so then came working at the lesson barn on Sundays. A few Saturdays were spent driving 2.5 hours to work for Paula Turner of Seattle Slew fame. Then came a hunter barn in VA and then came an opportunity to work at a breeding training farm in NY. Remained there or at the track for the next 17 years and was everything from a shedrow foreman, to assistant farm manager, to sales prep and showing, to assistant trainer, and finally back to the farm as business manager. Everything but an exercise rider (but I would go out on the pony.) The hardest I ever worked but the best time of my life. The kicker is that I'd never even touched a horse until I was 31 years old.


                        • #13
                          Of course I loved all the Black Stallion and other horse books as a kid. But I remember distinctly watching the 1982 Kentucky Derby. I picked a pretty dark gray horse to win. The TV people said he wouldn’t. I cheered Gato del Sol to the finish, I was nine years old.

                          There wasn’t much then on TV, so I’d just watch the Triple Crown. I clipped newspaper articles and kept a scrapbook about every horse race I could find. I memorized the jockeys and would bore my parents about stuff I’d read. It was certainly simpler then, but boy did I love it.
                          "Do your best, and leave the rest, twill all come right, some day or night" -Black Beauty



                          • #14
                            I had been taking riding lessons for a few years and I was a horse crazy kid so I started watching the Kentucky Derby. Swale won the Kentucky Derby in 1984. I fell in love with him (he was such a gorgeous horse) and fell in love with the sport. I also liked Gate Dancer in 1984 because he was quirky and he wore the hood with the ear muffs. I sent a fan letter to Jack Van Berg and he sent me an autographed picture of Gate Dancer.

                            irish_horse - I kept scrapbooks of articles about races too. I still have my old scrapbooks!


                            • #15
                              Smarty Jones!

                              Actually, he was the reason I first visited Lexington, KY - to see him when he went to stand at Three Chimneys. The wonderful people I met there then inspired me to first become a huge fan, then to become an owner in a new partnership they were starting, and most recently to start with some breeding too. Now, 13 years after that first visit to see Smarty Jones, I'm a partner in 7 active race horses, and I have a broodmare with a 2019 foal on the ground and another on the way for 2020. I love it and am so glad I met the people I did who put me on this path, and continue to make it so enjoyable.


                              • #16
                                It was discovering the Thoroughbred books when I was 7 years old that kicked off my racing passion. I bought book #16 first, because the horse on the front cover was black (hello Black Stallion), and read every one of those books that ever came out. I desperately wanted to become a jockey, but didn't stop growing until 5'8" so gave up on that. However I went through a 4 month exercise rider/jockey training program at a rural college when I was turning 20, which was a dream come true. Wrecked my shoulder in an accident at the track shortly after graduating though. Now I just watch joyfully from the rail/TV!

                                Re-reading the books as an adult for kicks was a chuckle, as I realized just how inaccurate their training/racing regimes are in fantasy horse land!


                                • #17
                                  I was always horse crazy.. but reading The Black Stallion and then Old Bones (about my favorite TB, Exterminator) cemented my interest in racing. The first time I was able to watch all the Triple Crown races as a kid was when all of Canada was cheering for Northern Dancer. The little guy that could. After that, I was an addict.

                                  When I was going to art school in downtown Montreal (and then worked there as a graphic artist), there was an old guy who hung out by the big newsstand in the train station. He was always perusing the DRF on a nearby bench...and one day I said something casual like - "bad ride by the jock - had that horse 5 wide all the way round and he did not have enough gas left in the stretch... " and I had a new BFF. The guy was a racing encyclopedia - he could tell you the times of every fraction in major races going back years. He was a dear old soul with a twinkle in his eye - and one day when I happily came off the train and danced to the newsstand to share our opinions of Whatever Big Race had been run that weekend, he was not there. No one knew what became of him.

                                  My family rolls their eyes at my racing fandom. My mom and sister and I were on a 5 day trip to NYC many years ago - but I elected to stay at our hotel and watch the Breeder's Cup instead of going to whatever show and restaurant they were opting for. It was awesome - I got room service and enjoyed hours of racing (2006 - Invasor wins the Classic). Priorities - I have them!

                                  I even won $$$$ thanks to my racing trivia as a teenager... a host on a radio sports show asked how many grey horses had won the Derby - and WHAM!! - I was on it. $100 - far too easy! This was very pre-internet/google. Then I also told him that the 1954 winner (Determine - the first grey to win) was the sire of the 1962 winner (Decidedly - grey). I am sure he thought I was a bonafide weirdo.

                                  BayBondGirl - did you take the exercise rider/jockey course at OC?


                                  • #18
                                    smoofox I sure did! 4 months of -30 degrees through the winter and awesomeness