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Breeders Cup 2015
Kentucky Derby 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Past the Grandstand

Racing's Future: Sophia Ochoa

Sophia Ochoa
Photo: Ginger McGovern


“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 Sophia Ochoa

From Washington, 16-year-old Sophia Ochoa has been a fan of racing for about four years. She runs several racehorse fan pages, including Palace Malice's fan page on Facebook.

How did you become interested in horse racing?

I first became interested in horse racing when I came across an ad in a tack magazine for a Breyer model of a mare called Zenyatta. I looked her up on the internet and never looked back. I've become much more involved the last two years with amateur handicapping and pedigree profiling.

What do you love about horse racing?

My favorite part of horse racing is the tradition. It's one of the oldest sports there is, and you'd be hard pressed to find one with a richer and more storied history.

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

One of the persons I admire in the industry is Charles Campbell of Lane's End Farm. Breeding has always been my passion in racing and I really hope to one day work with broodmares in Kentucky.

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

I've always been interested in being a bloodstock agent, and I've been learning a lot about conformation and breeding.

What racetracks have you been to?

I've been to Emerald Downs when I was much younger, but it's six hours away so we don't get to go as much as I'd like.

What is your favorite racetrack? Why?

Churchill Downs has always been my favorite track. The twin spires are one of the most iconic land marks in sports, and the Kentucky Derby has always been tied with it.

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

My first choice would be Churchill Downs, but I also want to visit Santa Anita, Saratoga, and Keeneland.

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

My proudest moment has to been when Palace Malice won the Belmont Stakes. I'd been cheering for him since before the Derby and was very excited. I almost couldn't believe it when he crossed the wire.

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

My favorite horses of my lifetime are Zenyatta and Palace Malice. Before my lifetime, it would have to be Count Fleet and Kincsem.

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

If I could change one thing about horse racing it would be the drug regulations. I think we could help regulate medications a lot more efficiently if we had a national governing body rather than state-by-state rules.

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

I think one of the largest things preventing horse racing from being more popular is the assumption of widespread cruelty. A lot of the time, when I mention I follow horse racing to any of my non-horse friends, they always chime up with "Isn't it cruel to the horses?" People fail to see a lot of the tradition and family that goes on in racing, and only ever recall Barbaro or Eight Belles. Sure, there are bad people just like in every sport, but the focus is always on the equine athletes that make it possible.

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

Cruelty and neglect. People immediately assume that it's cruel and almost always have no actual knowledge or experience with the sport.

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

If possible, take them out for a day at the track. It's hard not to get caught up in the excitement of a thrilling stretch run.

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

My ultimate goal would be to work with the broodmares at Lane's End. I've always been fascinated with pedigrees and foaling. Another choice would be a bloodstock agent or yearling manager.

How are you currently contributing to the horse racing industry?

I run the fan page for Palace Malice, as well as co-manage the fan page for Honor Code.

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

An amazing accomplishment for me would be to foal a Kentucky Derby winner.


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About Mary Cage


Mary Cage, a 21-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 in America's Horse, American Racehorse and the Appaloosa Journal, as well as with the websites of The Blood-Horse and The Equine Chronicle. She has also had photos published with Paulick Report and Thoroughbred Daily News. In addition, she works as one of the social media coordinators for the Texas Thoroughbred Association.

In her personal horse experience, Mary has been around horses all her life and has won several Appaloosa National Champion and Reserve World Champion titles in the show ring. 

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/photographer and marketing/communications specialist. She is currently attending the University of North Texas, where she is a journalism major with a concentration in advertising and a minor in marketing. 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.

University of Louisville College of Business Equine Program

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