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HRN Original Blog:
Past the Grandstand

Racing's Future: Paul Devine

Paul Devine
Photo: Connor Devine

 

“Racing’s Future” is a Q and 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 Paul Devine


23-year-old Ohio native Paul Devine, a recent graduate of the University of Dayton with a marketing degree and entrepreneurship minor, has been a racing fan since he was 13. Last summer, he worked at Brookdale Farm in Versailles, Kentucky, working in the office and with sales horses. He is currently just a passionate fan but hopes to get further involved soon.


How did you become interested in horse racing?


Growing up in Marysville, Ohio, the only access to horse racing was at the local county fairs where they would have harness racing. I attended these races every year with my father and grandfather. Additionally, our family would get together to watch the Triple Crown races each year. When I was 12, my dad brought a BloodHorse magazine home and I couldn’t put it down! The next year, he took me to Keeneland for my birthday and ever since then I have been hooked! After an injury ended my college football career, I took the time to delve deeper into my passion and worked at Brookdale Farm. This sealed the deal and I am forever a fan of the game.


What do you love about horse racing?


It is hard to put in words what I love about horse racing. As a former athlete, I love the competitive nature of the sport and the pure athleticism that both horse and rider show. The horses themselves are beautiful and the people involved are truly unique. I also love that the game is unpredictable. A good horse can come from anywhere and every day there is a chance for a new star to rise!


Who are some of the people you admire in the industry and why?


The people in the industry that I admire are those who have been willing to help a “kid from Ohio” learn the game and have been ambassadors for the good in the sport.


Tim and Corrine Lane: I have been lucky enough to have the Lane family as friends since I became interested in horse racing. My dad coached Mr. Lane in college and they later reconnected when Mr. Lane started training harness horses in the area. When I caught the horse racing bug, I would go out to their farm to help and just to look at the horses! He has since convinced my dad to own part of two harness horses and now has to put up with even more of my questions! They are such nice people that love their horses and take pride in their well-being. I will be forever grateful for their help and friendship.


Frank Mitchell: Mr. Mitchell was one of the first people I reached out to in the industry, simply asking questions about the sport. He responded immediately and to this day always finds the time to answer my never ending questions about breeding and pedigrees. He has also allowed me to follow him at sales and always is willing to introduce me to others. Mr. Mitchell is truly dedicated to the sport and has been a huge mentor to me in my journey.


Anna Seitz Ciannello and Evan Ciannello: Two of the nicest and most connected people I know! They were the main reason I had the opportunity to work at Brookdale and they remain role models to me. They have such passion for the game and have gotten many new owners/fans involved.


Brookdale Farm: The people at Brookdale Farm are truly top notch. Everything at the farm is done with pride and through honest hard work. This comes from the great team involved. Mr. Seitz, Joe and Freddy Seitz, Victor, Julie, Codie, and Eddie, as well as all the barn workers, taught me so much and they remain an inspiration for me. The summer I spent there was an amazing experience and cemented my belief that this is a great sport with great people.


As you can tell, I believe the people in this sport are beyond admirable. I could go on with many others but time wouldn’t allow! I would like to end with my family, though, as they have supported me throughout the whole process and encourage me to reach for my dreams!


What aspects of horse racing do you wish you knew more about?


I would like to continue to learn about conformation and gain a better “eye” for good horses. I didn’t grow up around horses so I am trying to play catch-up! Also, I would be interested in learning more about the day-to-day care of horses at the track.


What racetracks have you been to?


Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Saratoga, Beulah Park (no longer exists!), Hoosier Park, and a few harness tracks


What is your favorite racetrack? Why?


Keeneland! This is where it all started for me and I try to go at least once a year. I have a lot of great memories with my family and friends. The atmosphere, beauty, and the level of competition there is hard to beat!


Of the racetracks you have not been to, which one do you want to visit most?


Santa Anita has such a history and looks beautiful. I have also heard that Arlington Park does a really great job so I hope to visit soon.


What are your favorite moments in your “horse racing life” thus far?


Working at Brookdale was an amazing experience and is something I will never forget! I am looking forward to following the careers of horses I worked with. Getting my picture taken in the winner’s circle at Keeneland on my birthday was awesome as well! Dale Romans and Tammy Fox (I went to UD with their daughter Bailey) let me sit in an owner’s box and then go to the winners circle when Grey Oak won! However, the best would be from earlier this year when the two harness horses my dad owns in partnerships both won their 3 year old debuts! I was so excited, and seeing the joy on his face was priceless!


Who are your favorite racehorses of your lifetime? Before your lifetime?


This is tough! Point Given was the first horse I really rooted for and followed. Smarty Jones and Funny Cide also are favorites. Zenyatta was so fun to watch and proved that horses really do have fun running and love to compete. Native Dancer, Seabiscuit, and Black Gold are horses from before my lifetime that I admire. I love reading and those three are some of the firsts I read about.


If you could change something about the industry, what would you change?


I wish that the industry as a whole would work together in a more effective way. It seems like each jurisdiction has their own rules and doesn’t always try to work with other aspects of the industry. Everyone needs to work together to provide the best product we can while taking care of those involved. I would also encourage steeper penalties for those who break rules and put the health of the horses in jeopardy. It is critical that we work towards eliminating those who don’t put the needs and welfare of the horse before everything else. Finally, I would continue to take a proactive approach with creating positive media attention. I think programs such as America’s Best Racing are a great step towards sharing the great aspects of the sport while educating and creating new fans.


What do you think is preventing horse racing from being a more popular sport?


I think a big part of racing not being a more popular sport is simply lack of awareness. Most people know about the Kentucky Derby but unless you grow up in an area known for horse racing or have family members involved, you don’t hear much about it! Racing doesn’t look as good on TV as some of the other major sports and it doesn’t have the constant action most people look for but that is a tough fix. The negative media coverage certainly doesn’t help but I think this can be overcome. The constant access to media nowadays is making it easier for people to stay home instead of going out to the races or other sporting events for that matter. We must be creative and consistent in finding ways to engage fans both new and old.


What do you think is the most common misconception about horse racing?


I think most people think that it is an industry reserved for the elite, and “normal” people aren’t welcome. I have found it to be the opposite! So many people in the industry are happy to bring new fans into the game regardless of age or socio-economic status. If you are interested in the industry or have questions, reach out to people!


Also, I believe that many believe the horses are treated in a cruel manner. Once again I have found this to be the opposite! The people who care for these horses have a passion for the animal regardless of their successes on the track, and treat them with the finest care available.


How would you convince someone who is not an avid follower of horse racing to begin following the sport?


Take them to the track or out to a farm. If that isn’t available, simply share your passion with them! Answer questions and tell them about all the different facets of the industry. Most people I talk to are surprised about the intricacies of the sport and show a genuine interest in learning more. If anything, put them in a good environment, make them feel welcome, and let them see the beauty of the horses themselves.


What career do you plan to pursue in the horse racing industry?


I am still trying to figure out what I want to do as a “grown up” but I definitely want to be a part of the industry somehow. I have a lot of interest in doing marketing for a racetrack, farm, partnership group or sales agency.


I love the idea of horse racing partnership groups and have thought about one day starting my own! I also plan on getting into the breeding side of the industry and owning a few broodmares eventually!


How are you currently contributing to the horse racing industry?


I am contributing by being a fan! I love the sport and am constantly trying to pass this along to others. I am hoping to get involved on the ownership side in the near future.


What is one thing you aspire to personally accomplish someday in the horse racing industry?


My hope is that I make a difference in the industry. This could be through breeding the next Triple Crown winner or by bringing new fans into the industry. No matter what my role is in the industry, I hope to pass along the passion and pride so many feel for the sport. Work hard, work together, be positive, do what is right by the horse, and the industry will survive and thrive!

 

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About Mary Cage

 

Mary Cage, an 18-year-old avid fan of horse racing, has been around horses all her life, having owned, shown, and judged them for as long as she can remember. She began writing her own horse racing blog, Past the Grandstand, in August 2011 and has since been published with the BloodHorse's website, the American Quarter Horse Association's magazine "America's Horse", and Southern Racehorse Magazine. Blogging about the sport of horse racing combines her love for horse racing and writing. In her personal horse experience, she has won several horse judging contests at major stock shows and, in the show ring, is a Texas 4-H State Champion and Appaloosa Youth World Championship Show Top Ten finalist. 

 

Mary has always aspired to have a career with horses and since her love for horse racing began, she has dreamed of pursuing a career in the Thoroughbred racing industry, possibly as a writer. With this blog, she hopes to show readers horse racing through the eyes of a young fan as she writes about assorted horse racing topics.