So hang on a minute, this is my very own blog on a major horse racing website? This isn't even a guest blog...it's actually my own blog? The fact that all of this is happening is past my comprehension. Something as simple as pure love and passion for a sport so incredible somehow landed me here. This, right now, is me living my dream. Being such a young fan and having these types of opportunities arise means the absolute world to me. A year ago I never would have imagined that I would be in this position now. I guess I could say that this is a storybook ending for me...or perhaps it's the storybook beginning.
I don't have one of those farm life with horses/family involved in the racing industry/family liked racing and took me to the track when I was real little type of beginnings. I was only 12 when I walked out of a Borders with Bill Nack's Secretariat newly purchased. I didn't know a single doggone thing about horse racing. All I knew was that it was about a horse and that a movie was just out about it. If only I knew I was about to get sucked into a world of no returns: the world of horse racing.
All the credit of really pulling me into racing belongs to Shackleford. He was my very first racing romance. From the time I watched him hold off Animal Kingdom in Baltimore to when he roared down the stretch at Churchill Downs in the Clark Handicap, I loved that horse with every fiber of my being. This sort of void fills you, this feeling of emptiness, when your favorite horse retires. (For me, at least.) I only moped around without a horse to look forward to for about a month and a half. Early January of 2013 was when the whole saga of me ending up here really began.
Fate? Destiny? Or just dumb luck that I decided to turn on the television early on the afternoon of January 5th? Whatever it was, catching Princess of Sylmar's romp in the Busanda may have just been the defining moment that resulted in me ending up on the pages of HRN. I made a simple mental note that the filly I just watched would be my early Kentucky Oaks selection. Keeping that note in the front of my mind until the first Friday in May paid off of course, and now there was no doubt in my mind that, yes, I was hooked onto this filly that I somehow, someway managed to pluck out of hundreds of others for one particular race four months ahead of time.
Maybe it's just some freaky teenage nature of mine that gets me so attached to one horse. For pretty much every other teenage girl on the planet it's boybands and such, for me it's simply horses. I don't even remember when the idea for the fan sign popped into my head that September. It was a "Mom, we need to go to A.C. Moore and get a poster board for this Saturday stat" kind of thing. I'm more than glad my original reluctance didn't follow through because that flimsy little poster board with the uneven blue and purple writing was what literally changed my life. I was simply hoping for a little wave or something from the King of Prussia crew whether or not she won the Beldame. Nothing could have ever prepared me for that day. "Princess of Sylmar's #1 Fan" was not expecting the kind of attention I ended up receiving.
Driving home that night I thought the whole everyone asking to take my picture and getting the man himself, Ed Stanco, to notice me and taking me back to see the filly I so dearly loved was a once and done thing. But next thing I knew there were things getting written, and I was in them. I was in Steve Haskin's (yes, STEVE HASKIN) BloodHorse article about the race in the following days, I was in an article on HRN, there were YouTube videos posted of me, and I was getting contacted by NYRA. And to top everything off? I was named HRN's Tim Reynolds Memorial Fan of the Year at the end of the year. So much happened in so short a time and it was all really because I did something as simple as fall in love with a horse.
So boring story aside, I have a list too long of people to thank. Everyone at Horse Racing Nation who made this blog a possibility, especially Brian Zipse for asking me to become a part of the team in the first place, everyone at King of Prussia Stable who have jokingly adopted me into the family and made me feel at home, my parents for being my chauffeurs for all my racetrack journeys, and all my friends and siblings for putting up with my nonstop rave for racing. Last but certainly not least, I have to thank the horse. So thank you, Princess of Sylmar, for doing an utter lifetime's worth for me in such a short span of time.
I've said before that I felt like I've been an airplane rolling down a runway for the past three and a half years and now the wheels are finally beginning to lift off. This blog is the first step in me achieving my dream of making a living through my writing in the incredible Sport of Kings. In fact, maybe this is neither a story book ending or beginning, but perhaps the final page of the prologue has just been put to rest and now the real story is about to be embarked upon. After being wrapped up into the eloquence of racing I've found that there is no escape, and I don't wish to escape. I am so grateful for every little, minute detail that has brought me here.
And with that, introducing 31 Lengths! I hope many of HRN's fans will enjoy whatever journey this new blog may bring!