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HRN Original Blog:
Race Talk with the Girl Next Door

Where It All Started

I know my blog is late this week, but I was waiting for my niece to visit from Cleveland. While she was here, I took her to a place where magic can happen. The place adults have been taking children to experience a bit of this magic for years. I took her to Churchill Downs. My four year old niece has been to race tracks before, but none as important as Churchill; none as memorable. She never went too close to the horses or came face to face with any jockeys, so this was her ‘first visit’. Today, I got to relive the excitement of a first horse track visit. I lived it through her eyes. It was just as magical as I remember. This is where we all started; everyone’s how I started liking racing story begins with…”my mom or dad used to take me to the track when I was younger”. That was your story, that is my story and that will be the next generation of fans’ story. I started the next generation out today and Churchill was the perfect place to do it. Kayden, my niece, started watching racing with me when she was almost two years old. She would sit with my step-father and I and watch the horseracing channel every day. I would root for my then favorite jockey, Jamie Theriot and she learned her first sentence—“Come on Jamie!”. It took years to explain to her that horses were horses, not come on Jamie’s. Since then, Jamie has been her favorite and today she met him. He came out, gave her a wave when she yelled for him, he stopped for a picture and even gave her his goggles that she is wearing to bed tonight. Today, I made a new fan of racing. She decided today that she is going to be jockey instead of a doctor. Tomorrow, she plans on shopping for her Halloween costume. She will not be a princess or Lady Gaga; she wants to be a jockey. She met Leparoux, Borel and Albarado too. She had pictures with each of them, and as funny as it sounds, I think these superstars made a difference. I thought that she would be ecstatic to see the horses, they even let her pet some of them, but it was the jockeys that captivated her imagination. She would watch the race and then run back to the paddock just to catch another glimps of the jockeys. They were almost her size, but they were so much bigger to her. It was nice to spend this time with her, watching her enjoy something that I love so much. My story begins with, my grandfather used to take me to the track and now her story will begin with, my aunt used to take me to the track. It was so fitting to introduce her to my sport, since it was 2 Preakness’ ago that I discovered how much I really love this sport of kings. This is my anniversary; it was 2 years ago that I watched Rachel win the Preakness and to celebrate I chose to introduce a new fan to why I watch…and she got it. Thank you Rachel Alexandra and for my niece, thank you Jamie Theriot.
 
We not only met jockeys, we talked to a lot of the workers today. They made sure that our visit there was the best it could be. They talked to my niece, they told her how to meet her favorite jockey and they made sure she had a chance to pet a horse. These employees were wonderful and they made the experience even better than I thought it could have been. Bravo to Churchill Downs for making this such a wonderful experience. Next time you are thinking about doing something with the kids, think about the first time your Dad took you to the track.
 
Just to tie up loose ends, since the Preakness is lurking around the corner all I have to say is…Come on Dialed In!! I have narrowed it down to Dialed In, King Congie and Sway Away. I do have to say, I am kicking myself that I am not able to fit in Astrology.
 
Till next week, best of luck on the Preakness!!

 

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Older Comments about Where It All Started...

Honored that I got to also re-experience this with you and my little Angel. That was the best track and the most wonderful experience I have ever had. Love you sister! Great blog as always!
i love remebering with u. nieces and nephs are cool peop-le. ur stepdad is a good man. love ur mother and especially u. uncle eddie. go go go moocho macho man to place.
I love it! No doubt Kayden will be a fan of horses and racing for life, thanks in large part to Aunt Angie :)
It is a wonderful thing that you got to pass on your love of the sport of Kings to a precious little girl. Every fan matters ... beautiful... Big props to the jockeys and staff of Churchill that made the experience for her that much more than anyone could have expected. This is another amazing example of people go above and beyond for no other reason but to spread good to others.

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Meet Angela D'Amico
My horseracing journey and my quest to learn more about it has brought me to the University of Louisville Equine Program, but it began before I was born. My parents met when their parents shared ownership in a few racehorses. Although they did not own any horses when I was growing up, my grandfather still took me to the racetrack all throughout my childhood. In 2007, my stepfather introduced me to different racetracks and handicapping techniques, but it was not until the 2009 Preakness that I was really hooked.
 
A filly, Rachel Alexandra, venturing into a man’s world caught my eye and I fell in love with her completely. This was when my life changed. When it comes to racing and choosing my favorite horses, I have always seen perfection in what others would characterize as flaws. With this blog, I hope to show everyone that horseracing is not just a gamble, it is a passion.