Photo: David Young
While she did not grow up in a family involved in horses, Laurel Humbert has always had a love for horses. As a little girl, this love led to a passion for horse racing. But this “horse-crazy girl” phase never came to an end and instead has paved the path of Humbert’s life.
"I love the animals and I just love the pageantry of the sport and the action,” Humbert said. “It’s just like nothing else I know.”
Humbert grew up in Henderson, Kentucky – home of Ellis Park, where Humbert began attending the races as a child.
“That was sort of a means for me to get close to the horses, to see the horses, watch the horses,” Humbert said.
As soon as Humbert could drive, she got a job at Ellis Park, beginning as a group sales assistant. Working in various aspects of coordinating, customer service, and marketing, Humbert began to look for college programs that would facilitate her entry into a career in horse racing. She knew this industry was where she belonged.
After researching universities with equine programs, Humbert decided on the University of Louisville, as it is home to the only College of Business with an equine major that is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
“I wanted to work in racing and in racing management, more or less, as opposed to hands-on working at a breeding farm or working more hands-on with the horses,” Humbert said about the equine program gaining national attention. “I realized that UofL – its business program – would allow me to hopefully have a leg up in finding a job after graduating.”
The UofL proved to be the perfect fit for Humbert. For the first time, she was surrounded by classmates who shared her passion for horse racing.
“It was finally getting in that atmosphere of people totally focused on the same thing that I was,” Humbert said. “And then to have the opportunity to discuss it in school... That’s just not something I’d been able to do to that point.”
While attending the UofL, Humbert made it a point to get involved and make the most of the experience. She held multiple positions with equine-related programs within the university, including serving as the vice president of the Riding & Racing Club, editor of the Equine Industry Program newsletter, and marketing manager of the university’s polo club.
“It’s such a unique way to get involved with horses and horse racing that you just can’t attain in other places, especially if you have any kind of business focus and any goals of basically working in business within the industry,” Humbert said.
During the summers of her college career, Humbert would return to her home track of Ellis Park, where she continued to work her way up the ranks. She dabbled in various aspects of racetrack management and officiation, serving as the stakes coordinator, claims clerk, and ultimately program coordinator. She also served as a TwinSpires Club Elite marketing intern at Churchill Downs during the 2012 spring meet.
After graduating from the UofL in 2014 with a dual major in Equine Administration and Finance, Humbert returned to Churchill Downs for an interim position as program coordinator. Following this role, Humbert obtained her master’s degree in Accounting and Finance at the London School of Economics. During that time, Humbert began to reach out to people involved in the Thoroughbred industry to ask for advice and make connections.
“That’s something I encourage people to do – just ask questions, reach out to people you admire or have an interest in in the industry,” Humbert said.
Ultimately, Humbert landed a job at Blood-Horse as an accountant, where yet again she is able to surround herself with people who share her focus.
“It’s just crazy to walk around the hallway and you can strike up a conversation about Beholder or Frankel or any of the news that’s going on,” Humbert said. “Everyone just loves the sport here.”
At just 24 years old, Humbert has her entire life ahead of her. Fortunately for her, she found her passion at a young age and has not wavered from it.
“I would hope to just continue my entire career within the industry and stay as passionate as I am now in the future,” Humbert said. “I think if I have that, I’ll be able to tackle anything that comes before me. I think just staying within the industry my entire career is kind of my goal. And whatever I’m able to accomplish within the sport that I enjoy will just be a bonus.”