Photo: Dawn Cotter
“Racing’s Future” is a Q&A series in which I aspire to
help everyone in the industry. In addition to shining a spotlight on youth who
plan to have a career in horse racing, I hope that the opinions expressed in
their responses will offer industry leaders insight into what a younger
audience believes the sport should improve upon.
Meet Alivia Cotter
Gatlinburg, Tennessee, 15-year-old Alivia Cotter has been a fan of horse racing
for four years. She promotes horse racing through her Instagram account, @sprinkledinkles,
and her YouTube channel, @babypenny9.
How did you become interested in horse racing?
I got interested in horse racing when I watched the TV show Jockeys on Animal Planet in 2009. That
year, I watched the Kentucky Derby and Dubai World Cup. I was hooked.
What do you love about horse racing?
I love following my favorite horses from the time they start working out,
seeing their first race, their wins, and unfortunately their losses. Being able
to cheer them on in person or watching them on TV. . . Seeing them being led
into the starting gate is such an adrenaline rush and then the bell rings and they’re
off! You just never know what will
happen in that short time: excitement at its best. How can one not love the sport of horse
Who are some of the people you admire in the industry and why?
I admire Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher for the quality horses that they are
training and racing, and for them taking the time to talk and take pictures with
me and their horses. Also, I admire Michael
Blowen, my friend now, who owns Old Friends, for letting racehorses live their
lives out in green pastures and letting the horses get a second chance.
What aspects of horse racing do you wish you knew more about?
What happens behind the scenes at the barns.
What racetracks have you been to?
I have been to Keeneland, Churchill Downs, and the Red Mile harness track.
What is your favorite racetrack? Why?
Churchill Downs, because for me, I consider this my home track, even though it
is five hours from my home. I have met so many owners, trainers, jockeys, and
racing fans there. How can one not love the atmosphere? It is the track of the Kentucky
Derby. Excitement is always in the air,
along with friendly people. And I can't forget the backside, where I get to
wander around and love on all the horses. They can smell the peppermints in my
Of the racetracks you have not been to, which one do you want to visit most?
Santa Anita and Del Mar, of course, so while I am in California I can
visit with friends, go visit Bob Baffert's barn, see Mike Pegram, see Coil
standing at stud, as well as Zenyatta, John Henry, and Seabiscuit’s
What are your favorite moments in your “horse racing life”
Well, one of my favorite moments was my very first time to the Kentucky Derby.
My friend brought me to the paddock and she introduced me to Todd Pletcher and
Then my biggest moment was the 2014 Kentucky Derby morning on the backside. When
i walked up to Bob Baffert's barn, I saw Mike Pegram and we started talking Derby
and he invited me into the winner circle if Midnight Lucky won her comeback
race, which she did by 4 ½ lengths! So guess where I was – you got it, the winners
circle next to Mike Pegram's wife Mary, who then introduced me to Bob
Baffert. It was a day in the spotlight
that I will never forget and to top it off, as we headed to our car on the
backside, I got to stop by and love on Midnight Lucky in person, along with Drill. They were both so sweet and loved the kisses
and peppermints i had for them.
Plus, there is so much more: eating lunch with the owners of California Chrome,
the Ramseys, Danza's owners, Chitu's owners, and D. Wayne Lukas.
If you could change something about the industry, what would
I would change the age of the juvenile races; instead of racing at two, make
them three. For the Triple Crown races, I would change them to four instead of three.
What do you think is preventing horse racing from being a more popular
Some perceive it as a rich man sport, while others see it as cruelty. . . Perfect
example, when people watched the 2006 Preakness when Barbaro broke through the
starting gate and they put him back in there and a second later, he broke his
hind leg. Also the 2008 Kentucky Derby, with Eight Belles breaking down right
after her second place. They all think that happens every single race day and
race. So people refuse to get into that racing for those reasons.
What do you think is the most common misconception about horse racing?
The common misconception is that the owners and trainers are just in it for the
money and not the horses’ welfare.
How would you convince someone who is not an avid follower of horse racing
to begin following the sport?
I would bring them to the track with me and let them see the thrill of horse
racing. I’d bring them on the backside, front side, paddock, let them meet the
horses, and tell them about the owners, trainers, jockeys, and the horses’
What career do you plan to pursue in the horse racing industry?
I plan on working at Churchill Downs in the racing office and being an
outrider when I can.
How are you currently contributing to the horse racing industry?
I'm contributing by making the public aware it is a sport of all ages, all
income brackets, and countries by posting videos, photos, and stories of my
experiences within the racing world.
What is one thing you aspire to personally accomplish someday in the horse
Becoming an outrider at Churchill Downs and working in the racing office at
Churchill Downs, and traveling to racetracks across the world.