I was recently asked to complete a short interview by Horse Racing Nation blogger Angie D’Amico for an assignment in one of her college equine courses. I thought the questions and answers might make for an interesting blog. Please enjoy.
1. What are three major problems facing the equine or racing industry?
Thoroughbred horse racing has problems, there is no way around that fact, but the good news is I believe that there are answers to the problems. To answer your question, I will respond with these three: Drugs, knowledge, and the failure of our stars to race.
Just as it has become a big story in other sports, the use of drugs in racing is a major issue. In some ways, it is worse than other sports because in racing the athlete does not choose to take drugs, rather the decision is made for them. Fans deserve to watch clean horses run, gamblers deserve the knowledge that the horses are on a level playing field, and the horses deserve to be taken care of as well as we know how. I believe it’s time that American racing unifies its stance on all substances, and then follows through with a no-nonsense policing of the rules.
I never understood why the dissemination of knowledge in racing was so unfriendly to the new user, nor have I understood why good information is so costly. If racing wants to be more attractive to new generations of fans, let’s make it easier for them “get it.” Past performances need to me more visual, tech friendly, and in a word, simpler to understand. Racing information needs to be easier to research and cross-reference, and it needs to be less costly. Arm the new fan with knowledge, and they are more likely to love what they see.
Horse racing has proven to be a great provider of stars. Great horses capture fans’ imaginations in a variety of ways. Unfortunately, this has become less of a reality when our best horses don’t run very often. Our newest member of the Hall of Fame, Ghostzapper, ran a total of eleven times in his career, or in other words, not enough for the general public to get to know. Healthier, drug-fee, more wisely bred horses should be able to race more often. This was certainly true in generations past. Age restrictions for breeding could dissuade owners from ushering their best horses off to the breeding shed. Minimum racing requirements for entry into the Breeders’ Cup, or consideration for championship awards, could also help.
2. Is there a current issue in the industry that would affect all disciplines, not just racing?
In some ways, they all do, but poor overall leadership is far from unique to racing. Rather than coming together, and doing good to strengthen the sport, it seems far too often that management in racing is only concerned with their own individual agendas, and personal bottom line. Sounds a lot like American politics, don’t you think?
3. Why did you decide to work on the Horse Racing Nation site?
I was a fan of Horse Racing Nation from the first day I discovered the site, and so when the founding partners approached me, I naturally was very interested. The timing of everything just worked, and I thought that it would be a great fit for me. It has proved to be that and more. As the sub-title on my header states, I do this for the love of thoroughbred horse racing, and I can’t think of a website that meshes with that better than HRN. Truly a website for the people, everything done here is to promote horse racing in a modern, fun, and interactive way, and we are constantly looking for ways to become even better for the reader. I am happy to say, I believe we are on to something fantastic here.
4. What skills have helped you in your role on the site?
I could list a few of my personal strengths, but the best answer to this question might not seem like an answer at all, but I truly believe it is my key to success. I have had a passion for thoroughbred horse racing my entire life; literally since before I can remember. A passion like this has afforded me the ability to enjoy what I do a great deal. There are good days and there are bad days, but behind everything, I can always turn to my love for the sport and the horses to help me do my job well. It’s a great thing to do what you love; everything else just falls into place.
5. Have you thought about branching out into other areas, such as writing/editor of other publications?
With the current climate of racing media, and media in general, loyalty can be a tricky thing. For many writers just like me, freelancing is the best option, because good full-time positions like the one I have found are becoming more of a rarity. I guess what I am saying is that I am one of the lucky ones who have found an ideal position within horse racing media. It took a lot of hard and dedicated work to get where I am, and the job is a demanding one, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because of this, I plan to be a proud member of the Horse Racing Nation family for as long as they will have me.
6. Do you think the 'media' side of the industry is changing? For example, from print into web based. And how do you think that will affect people that are looking to make media a career?
It absolutely is changing. As the relevancy of print media wanes and the proliferation of online information grows, media, and media members, will need to continue to adapt. The effects to those involved are numerous. Specifically to those looking to break into the business, I believe the opportunities are now more accessible than ever, but they need to be prepared for a less traditional path. I am a perfect example of this. I started a racing blog, just like anyone can do, and I worked hard to succeed. I had no guarantees that my work would lead to a career, but I treated my blog like both a job, and something of which I could be proud. It was like a job for me, because I put time into it every day. If I did not work on my blog for a day, it was like not showing up for work. I chose to show up for work every single day. It was something I could be proud of because it was something that I produced. If my blog was not good, it would cast a negative light on me, and who wants that? I’ve always been proud of my blog, so it was easy for me to promote my work, and social media was a great platform to promote it from. Happily, people noticed.