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Breeders' Cup 2017

Racing's Future: Casey Laughter

Casey Laughter
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

20-year-old 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 Santa Anita.


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

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 your lifetime?

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 you change?

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 sport?

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 racing industry?

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.


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Older Comments about Racing's Future: Casey Laughter...

Good luck, Eventer. We have a young family member at JJ Pearce in Richardson.
Another Texan?! Good luck at the IB program. I've heard both positive and negative about it.
Yes, John Kimmel is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania veterinary medical program.
goblin, I'm from there too! I live in Richardson but go to the Plano schools. I will be going to East next year for the IB World School.
You will have to stick with it and work hard. I remember wanting to be a trainer when I was younger. I asked my father if I should get into the business. He gave me a flat "No." Turns out that was probably the best advice he ever gave me. My brother tried training and ended up working at a hamburger joint.
Seriously, Eventer?! If you are smart, then you should also be a "legacy" as far as the undergrad degree goes. I'm from the D/FW Metroplex, and we are an Aggie family as well! I would think having a veterinary background would be an advantage in training-- I think trainer John Kimmel is a vet.
the two disciplines would work together, but ONE is a good solid income, the trainer job is VERY risky
Ok, I'm thinking Texas A&M because my dad went there. My cousin is there right now. Neither of them went to vet school there, I'm glad to hear it's that good. I have just one more question; I have always wanted to train racehorses. Would being a vet with knowledge of proper conformation and equine development make being a trainer less difficult? I've read about trainers with veterinary backgrounds.
I definitely agree with that advice; and it just helps to get the "feel" of the school.
Try to go undergrad, to the scholl where the vet school is so to increase the chances of interacting with all the professors, administrators and admissions staff. MAKE them aware of your plans and stay in contact with them all your undergrad years...YOU have to amek an impression on them, so start early.
You're welcome, Eventer. If you are in high school now, it's best to concentrate on making your grades and being sure you are adequate in the sciences. I don't know your state of residence, but tuition at out-of-state universities is going to be more expensive. I LOVE that these "Racing's Future" features are inspiring conversations like this one!
Thank you for the links, goblin!
My mom wants me go to college, she said she'll fund it. I would like to get a job working at Rood and Riddle equine hospital. Would it be best to go to school in or spend time in Kentucky for that?
If you don't have the coin and go into debt, prepare to work until you are about 30 before you see your first dollar profit.
Eventer, Prerequisites are shown here. http://www.aavmc.org/data/files/vmcas/prerequisite_chart_2013.pdf
AMny people also consider foreign schools too
NOT TO MENTION that a considerable number of spots are given out POLITICALLY and not by merit....Payoffs to the right hands would help (ALumin funds, etc.)
Prepare to get straight A's, KNOW the admissions board personally and have LOTS of evidence of field work (farm or in clinics) long before you consider .THEY ARE with out a doubt , the MOST difficult schools to get into in the entire US. Getting a surgical residency is easier
What are the general requirements to get into those schools? I am starting high school next year and want to know what gpa I need.
Depending upon your resources, Eventer.....Theses are the best equine programs: Cornell, UPENN, and Texas A&M. http://www.ehow.com/list_6623016_top-equine-veterinary-colleges.html

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