If you are looking to read a blog about a current event in thoroughbred horse racing, I’m sorry, but this entry is sure to disappoint. Today, I’ve decided to write about something completely different. If you’ve ever wondered how Zipse at the Track came to be, or maybe how a blog that you actually like could have been born, or most likely of all, you wonder if this blogging thing is something that you might want to try, read on as I share the origins of me as a racing blogger. [sympathy pause] Now that most are gone, and a couple of you remain, I guess you’ve come to the right place.
It all began in the summer of 1968 when my Dad hit the daily double, and my mom had a couple glasses of wine … You know what, that’s probably going back a little too far. Let me start again.
My name is Brian. Brian Zipse. This is my horse racing blog. People seem to like my last name. I don’t know why. It’s pronounced (Zip-see), just in case you were wondering. My wife of more than eight years is Candice, and my daughter is Kendra. She is proud to be 5 ½. Kendra, that is. Together they are the number one loves of my life, and the two best things that ever happened to me. That's us in the photo above. Before I ever met them, though, there was Phil and Joyce Zipse.
My Dad fell in love with racing as a young adult, and it stuck. He took my brother Dave and I to the track every chance he could. I exaggerate not. I mean every chance. Name a big race in the ‘70’s or early ‘80’s on the East Coast and there is a good chance we were there.
One of my Dad’s best buddies at the track, and therefore one of my racetrack uncles, was a guy named Belmont Bill. You probably know him better as Dr. William Quirin. Bill and my Dad got their PhD’s in mathematics together at Rutgers. Well, Rutgers and racetracks throughout the Northeast. If you’ve read any of Belmont Bill’s books, you’d know that my racing education began before kindergarten.
I guess you can call my Mom a racetrack widow, but that probably wouldn’t be fair. She watched many of the big races on TV, joined us at least a few times each year, and knew enough at least to fit in with her racetrack boys. When I stood on my seat in the upper reaches of the grandstand for Secretariat’s Belmont Stakes of 1973, she was there to make sure I was safe while the stands quaked beneath us.
Born and bred to love racing, I really had no choice but to fall for this game. Or, a better way to say it, would be that I was one lucky kid. There were so many great horses back then. You didn't ask, but Spectacular Bid was probably my favorite.
As a youth, I loved to play sports, but at heart I was a true horse racing nut. How many school kids do you know that would fill notebooks with little stories about the big races, or racing stats? Pages and pages of racing stats; one thing I loved to do was to transcribe a shortened version of a favorite horse's past performances, and then start filling in the next lines with races that I thought they should run in the rest of the year. They generally did very well in those imagined future races. That’s weird, right?
It would have seemed that a career in racing would have been a natural for that kid, but for a myriad of reasons, some easily explained, some not, I ventured into a few other careers over the years. Through it all, though, horse racing always remained part of my life. My experiences in the game were many, but primarily as a fan. I guess you could call it a rather intense hobby all those years.
More years went by, and I was probably farther from a job in racing than ever when a filly named Rachel Alexandra came along. I liked her early, and I liked her a lot. As her career skyrocketed, my love for her grew. All the old feelings rushed back, and it was like I was a brand new fan again. Surely, I had not felt this strongly about another horse for 20 years and Sunday Silence.
Then, one day, a former writer for the BloodHorse agreed to have me as a guest blogger. I had previous writing experience, but really I was just the first to raise my virtual hand when he asked. It was as simple as that. After enjoying writing the piece so much, and then seeing nearly 200 comments come in, I was hooked.
New to Facebook at the time, I turned that page into horse racing, horse racing, and more horse racing. I bugged turf writers on there, just as I had done by snail mail as a teenager. When Steve Haskin said he liked my piece and suggested I start my own blog, I did that same evening.
Zipse at the Track. It just kind of rolled off the tongue and on to the computer screen.
It wasn’t always easy. I treated it as a second job. A second job that I loved. I was thorough and dedicated. I promoted it the first few months to embarrassing levels. That is what it took.
People noticed, and new opportunities presented themselves. The best of which was Horse Racing Nation. The three guys who founded HRN are sharp and likable. I had worked hard on my personal blog, and have continued to do so now in my fourth year here ... where does the time go? But like most great things in life, I was lucky.
While a good deal of my time now is dedicated to HRN, I always treat Zipse at the Track as my own special child.
Yes, it’s a racing blog. But really, it’s my tribute to the sport I’ve loved since birth. A big, long, opinionated tribute that seems to go on forever. I’m not a great writer, and I still hold another job, so I cannot be out at the track on a daily basis, but hopefully it is the kind of blog that young fans, just like I used to be, would appreciate.
Anyway, I hope all this info about me wasn’t too boring, and as always, thank you for reading.