Case study: Ramiro Restrepo and Fasig-Tipton

How Latin Americans are playing a role in U.S. Thoroughbred sales

Ramiro Restrepo, Latin American Market Representative for Fasig-Tipton, focused on his work at the 2016 Saratoga Select Yearling Sale. Linzay Marks photo

Ramiro Restrepo refers to his base in Miami, Florida as being like “Latin America part 2,” emphasizing the high-volume Latin American influence in the city – from decision makers, government and civic leaders, real estate, media and entertainment, and Latin American natives with second homes in the United States.

Restrepo was based at Gulfstream Park a few years back when he connected with Fasig-Tipton, the oldest Thoroughbred auction company in North America (“History”). The company then met with him to discuss their upcoming project: hosting the 2015 Florida 2-year-olds in Training Sale at Gulfstream Park for the first time. Several attributes made Restrepo an obvious candidate for a position that did not yet exist at Fasig-Tipton: a market representative for Latin America. Restrepo called the creation of his position a “connect the dots thing,” due to the recent impact of Latin Americans at Fasig-Tipton sales, and described the initial meeting during an interview before the 2016 Saratoga Sale of Selected Yearlings in Saratoga Springs, New York: Continue reading

History of Latin Americans in the U.S. Racing Industry

From immigration to the jockeys who started it all

There is a tendency to group the Latin American[1] immigrants coming to the United States into one lumped sum. However, by breaking them apart, you can better analyze the demographics per each country. I will outline a few of the statistics from South America alone. According to the Department of Homeland Security, in 2015, 72,309 people from South America sought permanent residence in the United States: 1,596 from Chile, 3,730 from Argentina, 158,619 from Mexico, 9,144 from Venezuela, 10,148 from Peru, among many other countries (Table 3). The Department of State 2016 Report of the U.S. Visa Office accounts 669 Employment Preference Immigrant Visas Issued (by Foreign State of Chargeability or Place of Birth) for people from South America for the fiscal Year 2016, along with 241 from Mexico, which is included under North America (Table III). These give a general idea of current immigration rates. Continue reading

Preface: Furlongs Across Frontiers

The fruit of my labor is finally being published!

The following series of blog entries is the result of the final capstone research paper for my International Studies major at North Dakota State University. I graduated from NDSU with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Management Communication and International Studies with a minor in Spanish. International Studies is a secondary major designed to provide a more global perspective to your primary degree track and career goals by taking additional courses with an international focus, and studying abroad. The objective of the capstone paper is to select a topic that combines your anticipated profession with your study abroad experience and primary major. The series of events that led me to my topic began two years ago.

In January of 2015, I traveled to Amarillo, Texas for an internship with the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA). Because of my hard work and passion for horse racing, I was enlisted to work at the 2014 AQHA Racing Champions Announcements and Heritage Place Winter Sale in Oklahoma City with Andrea Caudill, editor of the AQHA racing magazine, Quarter Racing Journal. Interested in applying my Spanish skills during the experience, I was intrigued when she asked me to join her in a bilingual interview with Mexican horse breeder, Anselmo Aguilar. Andrea did not speak Spanish, so she spoke through an interpreter to learn about his transition from doctor to businessman, and now horse racing enthusiast (Caudill, 2016). Continue reading

Our World Series

The 2016 Breeders’ Cup World Championships was one for the history books

The Chicago Cubs won the World Series last week, ending a 108-year drought. The “World Series” of horse racing, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, took place over the weekend.

bcwc_logo_4cIn my favorite sport, I cheer for multiple teams – as do most horse racing fans. My game hats and tee-shirts don’t sport a single set of colors or a solitary name of who I stand behind. Red and white for Songbird, orange and purple for Beholder, silver and white with the word “Chrome” for California Chrome, one fan can have alliances with one or all.

Our sport is unique in the sense that nearly every “player” has their own jersey with distinct colors and symbols to represent their team – a team that consists of a jockey, trainer, owner, hot walker, groom, veterinarian and exercise rider, or maybe multiples of each.

Our series is spread out throughout the year, with each team picking their games based on the ability and necessities of our superstars – the equine masterpieces that have been bred for centuries just to play and excel at this game. Each game is strategically selected based on the horse’s level of training, ability, stamina, speed and preferred distance. The other teams are also taken into account, with the “coaches” speculating about the right time and place to challenge a particular foe. Continue reading

Horse racing in Chile – It’s a small world

My first experience at a Chilean racetrack was nothing less than aWESOME

Ever since arriving in Viña (as the city is fondly called) I’ve been dying to check out the racetrack. My bus drives past the Valparaiso Sporting Club on its way to deliver me to classes, and my university, situated on a hill overlooking the city, provides a convenient view of the track. My breaks between classes are generally spent sitting in the lush, vibrantly green grass and watching the morning workouts. Yes, I do believe I picked the right place to study, and I swear I didn’t even plan that!

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Morning workouts

My curiosity got the best of me last Thursday, and I walked to the track for morning workouts, which are apparently not as common for people to watch as they are in the states. I bypassed the open door where maintenance staff was entering the grandstands, not wanting to tempt fate and have a run-in with security guards. Instead I played it safe and stood next to a low gate along the outside rail of the turf course. It wasn’t an up close and personal view, but I wasn’t complaining. I attached the zoom lens to my camera and started snapping away.

Aside from two or three who I saw putting in timed workouts, the majority of the Thoroughbreds here gallop without saddles, just a pad and a girth. The atmosphere was quiet and relaxed, nothing like the bustling morning traffic at Saratoga. Continue reading

Faces at the Races: Those Ain’t Highway Miles

Trainer and former jockey Herman Fennell talks bumpy roads and horse racing

Everyone in the horse racing industry seems to have a story. In order to highlight a few of the incredible people I’ve had the opportunity to meet and the stories they’ve shared with me, I’m going to begin writing the occasional feature, “Faces at the Races.” This article about  trainer Herman Fennell was a piece I wrote while working as the summer intern for the Minnesota Quarter Horse Racing Association. It ran in their August 2015 newsletter, but I wanted to spread the love and share it again, so enjoy!

Horse racing is a sport that can take you to the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Anyone who has been in the industry as long as Herman Fennell has undoubtedly seen both ends of the spectrum.

I found Herman cleaning his shedrow at Canterbury Park on a sunny Friday morning in June. The horses under the care of the 66-year-old trainer stared contentedly out of their stalls as they awaited their turn on the hot walker. Herman filled hay nets and cleaned stalls as I stood by and admired his protégés. I commented that his horses appear to be happy. Continue reading