They call it the Sport of Kings. Racing has a rich and
storied history stretching back centuries upon centuries. Its past is bathed
and showered with days overflowing with glory and prestige. The majority of the
20th century hosted the day and age when racing rolled off the tongues of many
regularly and was spoken in the same breath as baseball, football, boxing,
tennis, and basketball.
But all that goes up must come back down, and
racing surely came down. Fast. Almost like an overrated sprinter trying to
stretch out to distances far past what they're capable of. Roaring ahead, full
throttle, then beginning to tire, losing momentum, before finally stopping
That leaves the sport where it is today.
Floundering around just above the depths of demise. Searching for a flicker of
redemption. Some say it'll be gone as soon as 2050. Completely annihilated.
Leaving us with only the wisps of memory of our hallowed sport, which once
dominated an entire nation. How can something so prevalent very suddenly find
itself being ground into dust?
I stood before my television, misty-eyed, just
past nine o' clock on the night of December 22nd, listening as Vic Stauffer
carried historical Hollywood Park
into history. As Woodmans Luck nailed his nose down on the wire, just nipping
Depreciable, I sat back and let the thought sink in that I just witnessed the
final sentence be written out for apart of my sport's grand history. Another
final sentence written that only further dipped it lower into the realms of
obliteration. All i's dotted and all t's crossed, the storybook of Hollywood Park
had finally come to an end after 75 years of writing.
As the cloud of sorrow and grief slowly began
to lift, another thought swam its way into my brain. How many people such as
myself, that is, under the age of 18, had just done the same and watched one of
the country's most dominant racetracks become a thing of the past? Over the
course of the next few days the thought slowly morphed into another. The
subject of youth in racing.
Being only 15 years old, I'm proud to say I'm
apart of the youth community in racing. Over the past couple years I've watched
the younger generation of fans grow in size quite rapidly. I've used social
media to get myself out into the horse racing world, soon to be two years ago I
created an Instagram account for racing and have compiled 1400 followers since.
The amount of people my age, and younger, with an interest in racing only
continues to grow.
Social media has made apparent that the youth
community in racing is large. There are numerous other teenagers, and even kids
a couple years younger, who have a passion for racing such as myself. But
Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook aren't going to help much when sights are
set on even greater dreams, and that's what led me to my next round of thoughts
and questions. What's available to the youth of racing that's capable of
getting our names out to the real world? What opportunities are available for
younger people like myself who are looking to become more active and involved
in racing? And I've come to find that there really aren't any at all.
The late Kids to the Cup was one such organization in the
past the gave the youth community in racing the opportunity to attend big
racing events such as the Triple Crown and Breeders Cup, allowed them to meet
big name stars on the backstretch, and ultimately was a jumpstart to a
potential career in the racing industry. Virtually everyone who makes it into
the industry today either a) has a past with horses or b) was born into a
family already involved in racing. Those less fortunate, who, like myself,
simply picked up a book and fell as hard as it’s possible to fall in love with
something, find it quite difficult to achieve any involvement in the sport.
Organizations such as Kids to the Cup opened up doors to
younger people who have a passion for racing like never before, but with no
such organizations in sight anymore, all of those doors were slammed shut and
remain to be so. The lack of funds were the cause of KTTC’s shutdown, but what
if somehow a handful of sponsors were able to be herded together, and in a way,
resurrect or create an organization such as Kids to the Cup?
I’m only fifteen years old, just a freshman in high school,
but have managed to receive positive feedback on past articles posted on HRN,
and (with much pride, may I add) was named Horse Racing Nation's Tim Reynolds Memorial Fan of the Year
last year. But I really have no way or power, let alone any idea, on how to
complete the monumental task of bringing an organization up from the ground. If
by some chance something of this sort was able to be brought back to life, I
would definetly love to be apart of it. If there was any way I was able to give
back to the sport which has brought immense happiness to my life, I would love
to be able to provide opportunities for the youth community in racing that I
didn’t necessarily have available to myself. I want to make some type of a
difference in racing, I’m just not quite sure how yet.
So, could upping the aspect of youth in racing possibly show
it some type of resurgence? Probably not, but there’s always the possibility. I’d
love to see more opportunities arise for younger generations with a passion for
racing. More opportunities could lead to more jobs in the industry. I have big
dreams; I have my sights set on a degree in journalism and am an aspiring
turfwriter. I’m sure, and I know, that there are plenty of other people my age
who have similar dreams, and I know what it feels like to feel as if those
dreams aren’t reachable. It’s time to give the younger fan a voice, and it’s
time to launch new opportunities for the lacking youth in racing.
~Written by Averie Levanti