August Journaling Day 16: Horse Racing

Well we’ve rounded second base! On the Back 9! This exercise of writing every night has felt a little tougher the last couple of nights, but only tough in the sense of getting started. I feel like once I get typing it seems to come out fast and when it’s over I’m glad that I did it and I feel good. It’s a bit like exercise in that way, which we’ll get to on Thursday 🙂

I figured there’s a lot of ways to approach the topic of horse racing. Since I already wrote about work on day 3, gambling on day 10, and have to write about animals on day 30, I wasn’t sure what way to approach this tonight in a way that’s maybe different from how I normally talk or think about horse racing. And maybe it will just be the same old stuff. We’ll see where it goes and how I feel. To me having a set path with journaling defeats some of the purpose. Just let it flow.

What’s obvious is that it’s one of the central points of my life. It’s my occupation. It’s my passion. It’s where most of my friends reside. It’s where I travel. It’s where I spend a majority of my time, effort, and passion. So it’s big. Horse racing was not my first love. Baseball was. But racing was kind of always number two from the time I was a little kid up until I finished my schooling. Once I could no longer play baseball, racing bumped up a slot. My first job in racing was in 2004 at Emerald Downs as a press box assistant and that year was one of the best racing years of my life. It was all so new and so fun. It was my first taste of getting on the backstretch, meeting trainers and jockeys, meeting the announcer. But when that season was over, I immediately went and started another job. I got my real estate license and sold a single house in that year. I felt like at the time I was constantly trying to think of how I wanted to spend my career and at some point I made the thought that I was going to pursue something I liked to do. After some inspiration from a call by Vic Stauffer in 2005, I started practicing racecalling and really loved every part of it. That time was a great example for myself that if I want to do something, I kind of just need to go do it. Same thing I did with my book, I just started writing. No real plan, but I was never going to get somewhere if I didn’t just start.

So flash forward 17 years later and it’s been my career pretty much ever since then, with a small uber/grocery auditing detour in 2015. Do I have regrets that I made my career in horse racing? Maybe some. I don’t know if it’s possible not to have regrets in any avenue of life. But the pros have so far outweighed the cons that in 2022 I’m still glad it’s been my career. And I hope it stays as such. I still get very excited to go to work or to go to the track as a patron. It’s still fun for me. A good friend of mine told me once that the people who work in horse racing and REALLY care about it, REALLY love it, either eventually leave, or they get the passion zapped out of them. It’s sometimes not easy loving something that brings you so much frustration or heartache. But I have to think that’s not uncommon in any career, especially one you’re passionate about. No industry is perfect and no game is perfect.

That’s not to say I haven’t had major frustrations. There’s things I see in racing all the time that make me shake my head. I realize that people within the game all have their own viewpoints and experiences, so we’re all going to have different solutions and ideas. One of my biggest frustrations is that it seems like 90% of the people who work in racing think we’re selling a sport first, even though 90% of our customers are consuming our product as a gambling event first. Of course safety of our athletes equine and human are always the top priority, but in terms of marketing, rules, betting, etc, shouldn’t all that be looked at through the lens of our customers, who are the gamblers? Any decision we make beyond safety of horses and jockeys needs to be thought about firstly as “is this good and fair to the bettors?”

But just because I get frustrated doesn’t mean I want to give up or do something else. If I was the announcer for the Seattle Mariners I guarantee you I’d get pissed about things they do all the time! So racing will have me as long as they’ll have me. I really do believe that. I mean if some other industry comes along and offers me half a mil a year to do something, then peace out horse racing. But that ain’t happening. I make a good living doing something I love in a game I love, with and for people I love. I really do want to be a catalyst for good in the sport and see it grow and succeed. I know I’m just a tiny little member of the community (figuratively not literally), but I’m proud to be so. And I hope to be so for a long time.

Me and Mystacallie back in like 2010 or so