Photo: Mary Laughter
“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 Casey Laughter
Ohio native Casey Laughter, who has been a racing fan since 2003, is currently
a journalism major at her local community college. She frequently submits
articles to Horse Racing Nation through the Be a Turf Writer feature.
How did you become interested in horse racing?
In 2003, my dad told me I should watch the race
on TV. I sat in front of the television all day, watching the coverage. That
race was the most exciting and exhilarating thing I had ever seen. It was over
from there. I started reading everything on the Internet about past and present
horses. I started watching movies and race replays on YouTube.
What do you love about horse racing?
I love all the dynamics of it. I love the
training and all the work that goes into getting a horse ready. I love the
breeding aspect. Breeding the best to the best and hoping for the best. I love
the underdog stories. I love the adrenaline I feel, whether I am jumping up and
down in my living room or at the racetrack. Horse racing gives me a feeling I
have never experienced anywhere else. And to be honest, I hope I never feel
that feeling with anything else other than with the horses. Horses are a one of
a kind athlete. They run because they love it.
Who are some of the people you admire in the industry and why?
Honestly, I admire the youth of racing. We as the youth of the sport are the
future of the sport. The sport is only going to live on if the younger
generation carries it on. I also admire my favorite blogger, Brian Zipse.
He has the ability to bring me in, no matter the subject. He has helped me
build my own confidence and realize what I am truly good at: writing. I also
look up to D. Wayne Lukas, Gary Stevens, and Mike Smith. They never quit
trying. They always come back to beat their own bests.
What aspects of horse racing do you wish you knew more about?
I wish I knew more about training. I don’t know
how trainers do it sometimes. How do you do it every day, with maybe hundreds
of horses in your barn, all over the country? Training baffles me.
What racetracks have you been to?
River Downs and Churchill Downs.
What is your favorite racetrack? Why?
Churchill Downs is perfect. It houses so much history and you can feel it when
you step on the grounds. I cried when I first saw it. I was so excited and
overwhelmed with emotion. I was in a part of history, no matter how small my
part was. I was standing in the paddock and I shut my eyes, and I could hear
the crowd and the horses, even if it was the quietest place on the planet.
Churchill Downs is perfect to me.
Of the racetracks you have not been to, which one do you want to visit most?
Keeneland is my number one priority, and then Belmont, Pimlico, Saratoga, and
What are your favorite moments in your “horse racing life”
I have a few. I picked Orb to win last year’s
Derby after he beat out my personal favorite, Violence, in the Fountain of
Youth. I also met Mine that Bird and Funny Cide last year. My personal favorite
was when I picked the trifecta in the 2013 Remsen. I was so excited for that.
Who are your favorite racehorses of your lifetime? Before
In my lifetime, I have seen many great horses,
but Zenyatta and Barbaro are my personal favorites. I even have the Moss’ silks
tattooed on my ankle in a heart. Before my lifetime, I would have to say
Citation, Seabiscuit, and Secretariat.
If you could change something about the industry, what would
I would change the drug issue in a heartbeat and I think the whole idea of race
day drugs is part of the problem. We are creating medicated babies before they
ever set foot on a track because we are pumping their sires and dams full of these
steroids and supplements. Drugs are linked to breeding issues and we need to
get back to our roots.
What do you think is preventing horse racing from being a more popular
I think the limited “access” to them is preventing the sport from growing.
Other than the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont, and Breeders’ Cup, you don’t
see a lot of racing unless you have HRTV and mostly, people who have HRTV are
already fans. I think we need to televise more races. I especially would love
to see older horses make the televised races more. Instead of televising just
the Derby, televise the Woodford and Alysheba as well. We lose track of the
older horses after they make their Triple Crown campaign.
What do you think is the most common misconception about horse racing?
“All horses are abused and forced to run.” No, no they are not. You only hear
about the abuse when PETA or other undercover detectives find enough to make it
look bad. Sure, there is abuse in racing, but the good trainers outweigh the
bad ones. And horses aren’t forced to run. You hear about all these OTTBs who
weren’t into it or fast enough and they find new careers or homes. We need to
educate about the sport, not dismember the sport.
How would you convince someone who is not an avid follower of horse racing
to begin following the sport?
I think I would take them to a race. I believe when you see these huge,
beautiful animals in motion, you cannot help but fall in love with, at least,
the horses themselves.
What career do you plan to pursue in the horse racing industry?
I was always trying to find my way into working on a breeding farm, either as a
broodmare manager or yearling manager. But, to be realistic, I am from Dayton,
Ohio. I have recently turned my sights to writing and journalism.
How are you currently contributing to the horse racing industry?
I am writing. I am telling everyone I know about my experiences and my articles
and my accomplishments. I handicap races when I can and I discuss races with
friends such as Averie and Grace. I am also going to school, and
working my butt off to learn as much as I can.
What is one thing you aspire to personally accomplish someday in the horse
I hope I can bring my youth into the sport. I hope I can eventually find a
common ground with those who bash the sport, and make them see that not
everything they see and read is true. I also would love to be involved in
rescuing and rehoming OTTBs. That is my ultimate goal.