Race of the Week 2017

HRN Original Blog:
Dueling Down The Stretch

Welcome the New, Embrace the Change

GGF Crowd 615 X 400
Photo: Don August
Racing is dying. Nobody wants to say it, but the fan base is slowly withering away. Yes, racing still has big days like the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont, and Breeders' Cup. The stars come out for the glamour of it all and eat it up, but overall, racing is not the shining star it once was, seeing as how new sports have come to light. People are into football, baseball, basketball and soccer. There are more options today, more options that are put into the limelight and given more attention.
Knowing this, you would think that racing would welcome change and do whatever it could to welcome, young new fans, but that is not always the case. In fact, it’s far from it.
I have always been opinionated and very brash about my opinions. I tell it straight as an arrow and I don’t sugarcoat a thing. I have ideas, many ideas that I have written and blogged about, ideas to help change for the better, ideas I think could help. I write about them because I want to see this sport thrive. I want to see it brought back to the days of its former glory, because I love this game and my passion for it is simply undeniable.

I realize that not everyone may agree with me, and that is perfectly fine. We can have civilized and educated debates, and maybe in the process build an even better idea. That is completely fine and good, because even in the heat of debate, we are trying to work together, instead of tear each other apart. Unfortunately, not everybody does that. In fact, I’ve run into more people willing to simply take shots at me, rather than helping and working with me.
I don’t normally let that type of thing phase me, but today it happened to a friend. She was told that because she didn’t live in Kentucky, because she didn’t get up at 6am, because she doesn’t have a degree, that she isn’t a true fan and doesn’t deserve her paid job as a journalist. She was told this by a man, who isn’t an owner, isn’t a trainer, isn’t a breeder, or bloodstock agent, but a groom. But because he lives in KY, he apparently could do her job just as well as she could. Are you serious? What type of prejudice is this?
Believe it or not, there are many in this sport that are just like this man and he is just as much of a cancer to the sport as are the trainers that dope their horses and the owners that support them. When you take the time out of your day to tell a fellow fan that they aren’t fan and don’t deserve what you worked for, just because they didn’t get to grow up in Kentucky around the privileges that you did, is absurd. When you tell a person that they don’t count because they are too young, or because of their sex, that is absurd.
Racing is losing fans and people like this man are a very big part of the reason. If you were a young fan, trying to make your way in the industry, just getting started, and he told you that, would you want to stay? Would you be encouraged to keep moving forward? Or, would you take your time elsewhere?
Racing cannot afford people like this. Racing is struggling to keep its fan base as it is, and cannot afford to push away new, young, willing, passionate fans. We need to try to do as much as we can to keep as many as possible. A true fan of racing would understand that and a true fan would commend those who are following their passion. If we want this sport to live, we need to realize that what we say and what we do could be any young fan’s first impression. We should do our best to make it a good one.  


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Meet Laura Pugh

Laura Pugh got her first taste of Thoroughbred Racing when she watched War Emblem take the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes in 2001. After that point, she fell in love with the sport, reading every piece of news and information she could get her fingertips on.

Laura has a long history with horses in general, taking her first ride on her fifth birthday, with her first official riding lesson when she was eight years old. Both years she attended college she joined her school’s equestrian team, first at the now closed Virginia Intermont College, then again at Delaware State University. Unfortunately, after back and shoulder injuries, she had to hang up her saddle. 

In 2010 Laura came to Horse Racing Nation, but soon branched out to other media outlets, such as Lady and the Track, TwinSpires.com, and USRacing. She currently works at a local newspaper as a community reporter, while making a return to Horse Racing Nation, where she will once again feature her opinionated columns on the latest in horse racing. 

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