Racing's Future: Amy Nesse

Racing's Future: Amy Nesse
Photo: Dashing Images by Cara Arnold

"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 Amy Nesse

18-year-old Amy Nesse, from Rockford, Illinois, has been a fan of racing for over ten years. She is currently involved in racing on social media and writes horse racing articles for Jon Stettin at

How did you become interested in horse racing?

It just became a huge passion of mine very early on. I remember just falling in love with horses like Funny Cide and Smarty Jones. Like every other equestrian girl, I wanted to show jump or be an eventer in the Olympics, but after watching the Kentucky Derby I just knew I was going to get into horse racing, so I actively started pursuing that in high school.

What do you love about horse racing?

Well, mainly the horses of course! There is no truer athlete than a Thoroughbred racehorse. But the great people too! The breeders, trainers, jockeys, grooms... I am in love with it all.

Who are some of the people you admire in the industry and why?

Ever since I received a handwritten letter and autograph from Pat Day, I have always greatly looked up to him. Other jockeys like Mike Smith and John Velazquez I greatly admire. And great trainers like Todd Pletcher I have always admired. But I also look up to some great handicappers such as Jon Stettin, who is a racing genius and gave me the opportunity to write for him.

What aspects of horse racing do you wish you knew more about?

Hmm... I know close to nothing about betting! Not a huge advocate for it either, but I gather if I am to make it in this business I better learn more about it!

What racetracks have you been to?

I regularly visit Arlington and at the age of 12 I was personally invited by the owner of the track to watch the races in box seats, which is an amazing memory. I have also visited Keeneland and Churchill Downs.

What is your favorite racetrack? Why?

Although I have never visited, I love Saratoga. The history in that track is amazing! So iconic, and I hope to someday visit.

What are your favorite moments in your “horse racing life” thus far?

Oh gosh, probably interviewing Mike Smith. That was a huge moment for me and that started everything! All thanks to Jon Stettin for that.

Who are your favorite racehorses of your lifetime? Before your lifetime?

That’s a tough one. I would have to say Zenyatta - what a horse to be alive for! But Funny Cide started it all for me, visiting him at the Kentucky Horse Park as a young girl was a dream come true. Before my lifetime, I would say Secretariat and Native Dancer.

If you could change something about the industry, what would you change?

I wish there were more Thoroughbred racing aftercare programs. Too many horses have nowhere to go after their racing careers and I hope that will change in the future.

What do you think is preventing horse racing from being a more popular sport?

Hmm... maybe the thought that you have to be a horse person or gambler to be into the sport, which is just false! Any sports lover can come to appreciate the competition and excitement of the sport!

What do you think is the most common misconception about horse racing?

That it is cruelty to the horses. I have always had to deal with my equestrian friends telling me that racing was cruel and that they don’t care about the horses, which is totally false! These horses are so well cared for. Yes, accidents happen and that's the hardest part about the sport, but these horses love to run and if they had a choice, they would choose to race because that's what they love to do.

How would you convince someone who is not an avid follower of horse racing to begin following the sport?

I like to show them old great races, like Secretariat's 1973 Belmont. Who doesn’t love a great sports performance?

What career do you plan to pursue in the horse racing industry?

I would love to become a horse racing analyst for TVG, or become an assistant trainer for someone like Graham Motion or Todd Pletcher, and then I would eventually like to work as a stallion manager at a major stud farm in Kentucky.

How are you currently contributing to the horse racing industry?

Well, I actively contribute on social media with regular articles, interviews, horse profiles, and my much loved “Horse of the Day,” which features a picture of a classic horse from the past.

What is one thing you aspire to personally accomplish someday in the horse racing industry?

To meet great people and horses, and take pictures and write along the way. I would love to become a familiar name in the horse racing world.

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University of Louisville College of Business Equine Program


About Mary Cage


Mary with champion Classic Empire

Mary Cage has been around horses all her life, having owned, shown, and judged them for as long as she can remember. She began writing her own horse racing blog, Past the Grandstand, in August 2011 and has since been published in America's Horse, American Racehorse and the Appaloosa Journal, as well as with the websites of The Blood-Horse and The Equine Chronicle. She has also had photos published with Paulick Report and Thoroughbred Daily News. In addition, she works as one of the social media coordinators for the Texas Thoroughbred Association and is an intern at WinStar Farm with a client relations and marketing focus, as well as some bloodstock duties.

In her personal horse experience, Mary has been around horses all her life and has won several Appaloosa National Champion and Reserve World Champion titles in the show ring. She has also worked as a hotwalker and groom.

Mary has always aspired to have a career with horses and since her love for horse racing began, she has dreamed of pursuing a career in the Thoroughbred racing industry, possibly as a racing manager or client relations specialist. She is currently attending the University of North Texas, where she is a journalism major with a concentration in advertising and a minor in marketing. With this blog, she hopes to show readers horse racing through the eyes of a young fan and transport you to some of racing's biggest events through her photos and words.

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