Photo: Lauren Lilly
“Racing’s Future” is a new 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 Carly Kaiser
Carly Kaiser, 22, is a racing fan
from Washington who will soon graduate from the University of Louisville. A racing
enthusiast for ten years now, she has worked as a tour guide at the Kentucky
Derby Museum while attending college. She plans to move to Lexington after
graduating. Be sure to follow her on Twitter, @carlykaiser.
How did you become interested in
My racing fandom started in 2004 when I was 12 when the Arkansas Derby
was on TV. Always a fan of horses, I decided to watch and Smarty Jones won. My dad told me to watch the Kentucky Derby a few
weeks later, reminded me to watch, and when Smarty won yet again I was hooked.
To this day his Belmont loss is one of the most heartbreaking things for me to
watch, even if I hadn’t totally grasped the significance of the Triple Crown
My dad continued to encourage this new passion I had and took me to the closest
racetrack, Emerald Downs, all the time until I got my own driver’s license. I was
lucky enough to have my parents plan a trip to Santa Anita not once, but twice,
for the 2007 Santa Anita Derby and the 2008 Breeders’ Cup! Definitely a surreal
What do you love about horse
I adore the history of the game, especially of the Triple Crown. It absolutely
fascinates me and I eat up anything I can find on the topic. For me, it is
unlike anything else out there.
Who are some of the people you admire
in the industry and why?
There are two “people” who come to mind.
One is not a specific person, or specific that I know of, but tracks that try
hard for the fans. There are some that exist just to exist, but there are some
tracks that really try. Santa Anita, Saratoga, Keeneland, etc. all seem to
really want to produce a good product that appeals to people. Emerald Downs
(biased, I know) also tries to get the fan’s side of things.
For an individual person it would have to be Gary Stevens for me. His comeback speaks for itself, but getting
into the sport, knowing that he was a Pacific Northwest guy like myself who is
successful was great, and his role in Seabiscuit helped with that image as
well. I’ve always been a huge fan and have always admired him a lot. He
favorites my tweets to him too; what a guy.
What aspects of horse racing
do you wish you knew more about?
I wish I knew more about international racing. My knowledge
is definitely limited to the USA, but when it comes to England I know some, but
the rest of Europe, Australia, and especially Asia I know next to nothing about
What racetracks have you been to?
Emerald Downs, Portland Meadows, Hastings Park, Golden Gate Fields, Bay
Meadows (RIP), Santa Anita, Churchill Downs, Turfway Park, Keeneland, Turf
Paradise, Saratoga, and Oaklawn. I also have been to the ruins of Longacres
Park; does that count?
What is your favorite racetrack? Why?
I have two. Emerald Downs because that’s where it all started; it’s home.
For me there is not another track like it: a beautiful small facility with a
wonderful view of Mt. Rainier in the distance. Nothing compares.
Next is Santa Anita. The track is next to perfect in almost every single way,
especially now that it is back to dirt. Beautiful facility, well maintained,
and quality racing year round.
Of the racetracks you have not been to,
which one do you want to visit most?
While no longer a Thoroughbred track, Hialeah is one I am itching to get
to. Belmont as well.
What are your favorite moments in your "horse racing life" thus far?
My freshman and sophomore year at college I was in the University
of Louisville marching band, and in 2011 attended my first Kentucky Derby and
was able to play “My Old Kentucky Home.” It was an amazing experience, and I got
to do it again the next year. Words cannot describe how much this experience
meant to me. Growing up in Washington, the lyric “my old Kentucky home, far
away” always spoke to me. To be honest, I was only able to play a few notes the
first time I did it because I was just soaking it all in.
If you could change
something about the industry, what would you change?
I wish the sport wasn’t so gambling-dependent. To me the
sport should focus more on the human stories of the jockeys and trainers rather
than how much the Pick 4 paid.
What do you think is preventing horse
racing from being a more popular sport?
Bad image. People look at it as another form of blackjack to win money
on, as well as animal abuse. That is a hard image to overcome.
What do you think is the most common misconception about horse racing?
That whole animal abuse stigma.
How would you convince someone who is not an avid follower of horse racing to
begin following the sport?
I just take them to the track with me. Particularly Keeneland — gorgeous
place that is just fun to be. I tell them stories about the horses running,
their sire or dam, or the people connected to the horse. I teach them basic
bets (WPS, ex-trifecta, etc) but mostly try to give them good stories.
Last Keeneland meet I drove a joke into the ground; every time Joel Rosario won
(which was a lot that day) I said, “Joel Rosario—he’s so hot right now.” When he
went on to win the Derby, those people I went with were pretty excited to
recognize the name.
What career do you plan to pursue in the
horse racing industry?
At this point, anything to help it get popular and loved like it was in
How are you currently contributing to the horse racing industry?
My job as a tour guide at the Derby museum is a lot of fun. I work with
people who do and do not have backgrounds in racing. It is fun to see the
differences, and I think the guests also enjoy our enthusiasm for it. There is
also my old YouTube channel. It’s still up, but I don’t have time to mash up
corny videos anymore.
What is one thing you aspire to personally accomplish someday in the horse
I want to make a change for the better. I don’t know what that change is, but
right now there haven’t been many good changes, and I want that to be