Photo: Devon Dougherty
“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 Devon Dougherty
From Philadelphia, Pa.,
Devon Dougherty has been a fan of racing her entire life, being raised in a
horse racing family. She has worked at Parx Racing as a hot walker and groom
for the past two years and is starting to learn to gallop horses. She is
currently a freshman at the Community College of Philadelphia, and will go on
to the University of Kentucky to earn her bachelor’s degree in Equine Science.
After college, she plans to apply to the Godolphin Flying Start Program and
eventually get her trainer’s license.
you become interested in horse racing?
interested in racing for as long as I can remember. My family has sparked my
passion for the game; my mother, Linda Dougherty, is a turf writer for
magazines such as the Mid-Atlantic
Thoroughbred and the Blood-Horse,
and my father has worked as a groom at Parx Racing for over 30 years and now is
What do you love about horse racing?
I love the most about horse racing is its excitement and the thrill of good
competition. I also love working hands on during training and learning about
Who are some of the people you admire in the industry and why?
In this industry, I definitely admire trainer Bob Baffert. The list of great horses that have come out
of his barn is why I admire his skills as a trainer, with horse such as recent
Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, Silver Charm, and Real Quiet. I also
admire trainers Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown for their outstanding record with
two-year-olds and their success at important meets, such as Saratoga.
What aspects of horse racing do you wish you knew more about?
I wish I
knew more about international racing, such as in Dubai, England and Ireland.
racetracks have you been to?
I have visited Belmont, Saratoga, Penn National, Parx Racing, Delaware Park,
Monmouth, Pimlico, Laurel, Atlantic City, Keeneland, Churchill, Tampa Bay
Downs, Meadowlands, and OBS.
your favorite racetrack? Why?
My favorite racetrack is Saratoga because of the atmosphere and the quality of
racing. Every summer, I spend a week in Saratoga Springs and there never fails
to be an overwhelming turnout at the races. The number of young people and the
sheer volume of fans is a refreshing change that brings a sense of hope for
racing’s future. Also, the Saratoga meet is so exciting with classy horses and
Of the racetracks you have not been to, which one do you want to visit most?
Of the tracks I have not been to, I’d like to visit Santa Anita the most. The
location and quality of California racing is something I have always wanted to
What are your favorite moments in your “horse racing life” thus far?
in my “horse racing life,” my favorite moment was being on the rail to watch
American Pharaoh win the 2015 Haskell Invitational.
your favorite racehorses of your lifetime? Before your lifetime?
My favorite racehorses of my lifetime include Zenyatta, Wise Dan and California
Chrome. Before my lifetime, my favorite horses include Secretariat, Seabiscuit
could change something about the industry, what would you change?
If I could change something about the industry, I would change the lack of
younger people getting involved in the sport.
What do you think is preventing horse racing from being a more popular sport?
I definitely think the lack of
advertisement on sports channels such as ESPN and the absence of horse racing
on social media is creating a huge decrease in its popularity.
you think is the most common misconception about horse racing?
I think the most common misconception about horse racing is that
the sport is cruel and the horsemen do not care about their horses. From
working hands on in the business since I was a child, I know for a fact that
the majority of horses are well taken care of, happy, and enjoy their job. I
know the commitment and sacrifice horsemen take from their passion for the
sport and the horse, which is often not what many people think.
you convince someone who is not an avid follower of horse racing to begin
following the sport?
To convince someone who is not an avid follower of horse racing to begin
following the sport, I would take them to the racetrack in the morning. I would
show them around the barns and let them interact with the horses. I would
introduce them to the countless number of friendly faces that would welcome
them onto the track. I would stand with them on the rail to watch the busy
morning workouts. I would make them feel a part of the sport and show them the
true core of what horse racing is all about.
What career do you plan to
pursue in the horse racing industry?
horse racing industry, I plan to pursue a career as a trainer.
How are you currently contributing to the horse racing industry?
I have been building a foundation to become a trainer since I got a job working
at Parx Racing when I was sixteen. From working the mornings and running horses
in the afternoon, I am constantly at the racetrack learning more every day. I
have been hot walking and grooming horses for the past two years. I have been
riding horses since I was 13 and am going to learn to gallop horses at Ocala
one thing you aspire to personally accomplish someday in the horse racing
One thing I personally aspire to accomplish in horse
racing has always been to win the Kentucky Derby.