Tale of the Track Kitchen

Four days out from Justify’s attempt at the Triple Crown, MY reflections on what his Kentucky Derby meant to me

You know you’re doing things right when your child-self would be proud of your 22-year-old self.

Justify and trainer Bob Baffert, the morning after winning Kentucky Derby 144

That’s how I felt on the first Saturday in May, walking across the roof of Churchill Downs racetrack and looking over the twin spires at the huge oval below. The grey sky, intermittently spitting sprinkles of rain, could do nothing to alter the mood. Continue reading

Advertisements

MOMMA, ME & MIAMI

Nothing like a last-minute trip that you don’t have to plan yourself!

My mom and I have this awesome system where I say “Hey mom, we should take a trip to (insert random location)!” And then I cease to be any help whatsoever in the planning process, resorting to words of affirmation and “That would be perfect!”’s while she coordinates, calls, researches, books, and confirms. It’s like having my own personal travel agent! It goes without saying that my mother is a saint and she puts up with a lot from me, but we have a wonderful time on our adventures and she is my irreplaceable best friend.

Reunited at last ❤

The most recent “Hey mom, we should take a trip to (insert random location)!” moment was a few days before the Kentucky Derby – meaning I had no time for trip planning with my insane work schedule. I called to tell her I wanted to explore Miami in the time between Derby and starting my new position at Mill Ridge Farm, and that if she didn’t agree to come along I would go by myself. This is the unfailing hook, because I know she would rather be part of the shenanigans and keep an eye on me than allow her daughter to go to an unfamiliar city unaccompanied. 🙂

Miami is a wild human zoo, and all my fellow people watchers out there will L.O.V.E. the sights. The place has it all, from raging traffic, slightly terrifying clothing choices, amazing food and a distinct cultural flair. I enjoyed everything minus the traffic, which made me want to pull my hair out.

Since I am on a self-enforced writing deadline, I am going to give you the three W’s: Where we stayed, What we did and What I recommend. I will also give you a creative rating, inspired by one of my favorite podcasts, Let’s Not Panic. Continue reading

¡¡¡MÁS BLOGS!!!

The wait is over! I’m back to blogging!

This year has made me feel like Velvet Brown winning the Grand National aboard The Piebald (the horse’s real name if you read the book National Velvet). The training process was a grind, but the results have paid off.

A toast to you with a cup of guarapo (sugar cane juice) in Little Havana.

January started with a significant amount of doubt and uncertainty, but the cogs began to turn when I moved in with an amazing roommate who motivates me both personally and professionally. I laid out goals for myself that I not only achieved, but excelled at – I covered a horse race in Uruguay, took part in the Keeneland spring race meet, was a member of the Kentucky Derby Notes Team, was accepted into a program I’ve been working towards since I was 12, went on a super awesome vacay with mom and just started a rewarding new job.

As a result of all this, I have not blogged since… NOVEMBER! BOOOOO! But I’m back again with plenty to say and many stories to tell. So here’s a toast to you for waiting patiently for me to clear Becher’s Brook (please go watch the movie National Velvet so you can understand my analogies). I’m going to work backwards, beginning with tips and tales from Miami (my mom is the best trip planner EVER), the emotions of covering my first Kentucky Derby, and the incredible learning experience of traveling to Uruguay by myself and being one of the youngest (and one of the few female) reporters covering the Latinoamericano.

So stay tuned and get ready to be entertained 😉

Blinkers On

Sometimes good intentions can restrict vision

I never used the word ‘complacent’ in my vocabulary until a couple of weeks ago, when someone very dear to me said they don’t want to become complacent in their profession. I worked the word over in my head like one of the coffee-flavored hard candies I suck on when I need a break from chewing gum. Sometimes I’m so accustomed to gum that I bite the candy. And like the candy, I bit on the word a little too hard and it suddenly became tied to my anxious desire to plan my life.

Being complacent is not necessarily a bad thing. Merriam-Webster defines it as “self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies,” or “an instance of usually unaware or uninformed self-satisfaction.”

So why does the idea of complacency make me anxious? I know that I’m not currently unaware nor uniformed… and what’s wrong with being self-satisfied? Doesn’t that mean you’re content? Continue reading

Full Day

Slowing down isn’t my cup of tea

Gorgeous Grays Arch on my hiking adventure.

Last week one of my best friends, Shayna, came to stay with me while she worked the Keeneland September Sale. On Sunday, her final morning in Kentucky, I woke up, crawled out of bed and peeked outside through my curtains. It wasn’t early nor late morning, but the sun was already going about its business, brightening the neighborhood. Despite missing the crack of dawn, the time of morning I find most precious, a gentle fluffy pink and yellow shade glinted off the clouds. Perfect for a Sunday morning walk.

I pulled a sweatshirt over my zebra pajamas and took a loop around the neighborhood. When I got back I started on my favorite part of every day: making breakfast. Overcooked sunnyside-up eggs for each of us (I’m not a big runny yolk person) and fried potatoes with my favorite Spike seasoning. Washed down with some ketchup and stout coffee. Mmm. So. Good. Continue reading

Home-Home

Lovin’ it for all the right reasons

The one and only Fargo Theater

Saratoga came and went, bringing with it a wave of activity and concluding with a treacherous mountain of exhaustion. I followed two weeks in chaotic paradise by transitioning from one internship to another. And now I’m back “Home-Home.”

At this point in my life I have two types of homes: There’s home, and there’s Home-Home. Note the capitalization differences. Capitalized words are important, meaning Home-Home is muy importante.

Lexington is home. I have a lovely rental house in a quiet, family-filled neighborhood, an enjoyable work routine, and plenty of hobbies to keep me busy. At home I have a hard time not planning my days to a T. Wake up, wash my face, make breakfast, read the latest horse racing news, pack my lunch, get ready for the day, work, workout, errands, friends, reading, practicing Spanish, learning to golf, riding when I can, cooking, cleaning. Adulting. Continue reading

When Not in Saratoga

At the time this is published, I’ll be just three days away from going to Saratoga.

However, I started writing it in my head a couple weeks ago. That means my outlook is a lot more positive at this moment that it was when I first scratched most of this blog down on yellow sticky notes as I sat at my desk in Kentucky on Saratoga opening day.

Friday, July 21st:

If you’d have told me a year ago that a year from then I would be living in Kentucky, interning with one of the most prestigious thoroughbred sales companies in the world, I would have been thrilled, and maybe even cried a little. Don’t get me wrong, I still am thrilled, but my emotions are a bit displaced at the moment.

For two strait summers I was spoiled, living in Saratoga for almost the entire duration of the race meet while working as a staff writer for The Saratoga Special. This opportunity launched me full-on into the thoroughbred industry and opened doors that would have been unimaginable, had the guys who run The Special not taken a risk on a young lady from Fargo, North Dakota.

One of my friends who I met at the historic racecourse in upstate New York once told me he would rather be dead than not be at Saratoga on opening day. Now that’s insanely dramatic, and I was heavily criticized when I tweeted his quote. But if you’ve been there, you can empathize with where he’s coming from. Saratoga is not real life. You’re transported to another universe when rich and poor, young and old, horses and humans come together in a setting that fosters passion, heartbreak, sin and euphoria. Continue reading

Case Study; Conclusion: Roberto Rodriguez, Spanish Media and the Clásico del Caribe

Moving forward, what can be done to encourage Latin American involvement?

Roberto Rodriguez was born in Venezuela and came to the United States in 2001. While he grew up a horse racing fan, it was not initially where he planned to make his living. Five years ago, he began working as a journalist, in charge of the sports section of a local newspaper. When he requested media credentials for the Florida Marlins, Miami Dolphins and Gulfstream Park racetrack, Gulfstream was the only one who opened the door and offered him the credentials. He began covering the sport and connecting with people in the business. Rodriguez eventually began working with a company who partnered with prominent horse racing industry trade publication, The BloodHorse, to create BloodHorse en Español. After 6 months, the project failed because of lack of interest on behalf of Latin American readers to purchase the online subscription. When deciding on his next step, Rodriguez decided to begin his own project.

Roberto Rodriguez at the 2017 Belmont Stakes

“The idea of the magazine, it was good, the only thing is people has [sic] to pay for it,” Rodriguez said during a phone interview. “So when we finished that project, I say well, I’ve got to do something because I figured it’s still a good idea, but we could manage the other way. So I said let’s put together a website, and I was pretty much by myself. I’ve got nobody else working with me right then. I said well, I’ve got to put my name because people know me as “El Potro”, and I’ve got to put my name on it.” Continue reading

The U.S. Diversifying

Spanish resources in the U.S. are making the sport more accessible to Latin American fans

One of the photographers I met while covering the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” race in Chile asked if I had ever heard of the Spanish horse racing website, ElPotroRoberto.com. I hadn’t, so he suggested I look it up as a way of improving my Spanish. I began following the stories and updates on races in the United States, and found it very helpful for expanding my equine Spanish vocabulary.

During the summer of 2016, I worked as a staff writer for The Saratoga Special, a publication that covers the races at Saratoga Race Course. One morning, on my way to interview a trainer, I recognized Roberto Rodriguez, the founder and owner of ElPotroRoberto.com.

Spanish horse racing media is growing. And it makes sense, considering the afore-mentioned percentages of Hispanics working in the United States horse racing industry, that there would be specific media presented in their native language. The commencement of the 2015 University of Arizona Racetrack Industry Program Global Symposium on Racing began with a panel presentation of ideas to improve and market the sport of horse racing. One of the first of 45 suggestions was offered by Steve Byk, host of At the Races radio program, who highlighted the New York Racing Association’s race calls in Spanish, but pointed out that despite the high level of Hispanic involvement, the racing industry does little to develop them as fans (Angst, 2015). Continue reading

Case study: John Fulton and The Breeders’ Cup World Championships

The Breeders’ Cup is doing its part to encourage Latin American involvement in the U.S.

Club Hípico de Santiago racetrack from the backside

On May 22, 2016, I walked through the stone arch and wrought iron entrance gates of Club Hípico de Santiago racecourse (CHS) to claim my press and photography passes for a race called the Clásico Club Hípico de Santiago-Falabella. The 147-year-old grandstands of Club Hípico looked like a castle, crowned by swaying flags of Chile and the CHS logo. Run for the first time in 1903, the race’s history and prestige stands for itself. However, the 2016 edition would have added incentive, as it had been designated the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Race of Chile – a “Win and You’re In” for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Park in California.

The Breeder’s Cup, founded in 1984 and operated by Breeders’ Cup Limited, is a two-day horse racing championship held in the United States each year. The event offers $28 million in purse money and attracts horses from around the world. The Breeders’ Cup includes a lucrative nomination program and the Challenge Series, also referred to as “Win and You’re In” races. These races, held across the globe, allow the winning horse and their connections to travel to the Breeders’ Cup by paying their expenses and offering a berth into the race. The Breeders’ Cup website states “And while these two days have seen legends born, history made, and fortunes won, the greatest part is that the best is still yet to come” (“About”). Continue reading