Saturday, January 16, 2016

Guest Blog Contest: Fourth Place | What Horse Racing Gives Us, by Christine Oser

What Horse Racing Gives Us
By Christine Oser

What is it about horse racing that attracts so many different people?

Maybe it is the chance to make money, whether you are at the betting window or in an owner’s box. Put a few dollars down on the right horse and you can come away with even more. Horse racing gives people that rooting interest that sports are all about, especially with money on the line. As the horses round the final turn of a race the crowd grows louder, the grip on programs get firmer, and the rails throughout the grandstand are hit harder, all with the hope of the bettor’s pick hitting that wire first.

While betting is the more casual way to make money, others enjoy investing in the horses. Some people just love the horses and others find syndicates a fun way to bond with friends. If you’re lucky enough, your horse can pay for itself in earnings or even make you a profit. Plus it is always a good feeling getting your picture taken in the winner’s circle.

It could possibly be the glamour of the sport that attracts people. Beautiful people mixed with beautiful horses. Men show up in collared shirts and blazers while women pull out their sundresses and hats. Come Kentucky Derby day, it is all about the hat. Big hats, small hats, simple hats, flamboyant hats – you name it. Some will choose a cute fascinator while others seem to live by “go big or go home.” Whatever your choice of style may be, it sometimes just feels nice to have an excuse to dress up and go out.

Maybe the magic of horses and kids draws families to the track. I remember watching the movie Dreamer over and over again when I was younger. In my fifth grade year, Churchill Downs hosted a Dreamer Day. Not only were there races and activities for kids, but the kids were able to meet one of the horses that played in the movie. There is still a picture of that moment in the kitchen at home. I do not remember what the horse’s name was, but I do remember being awestruck at being right next to a racehorse.

It’s heartwarming to see people share their passion of horses with the kids at the track. Whenever a track pony or a horse working out in the morning stops at the rail for kids to pet, you can see the wonder that comes into the kids’ eyes. And if we try hard enough, maybe we can keep that wonder there and capture new racing fans.

Perhaps it is the majesty of a horse that draws a crowd. An animal big and powerful, yet willing to grace us with their companionship. One that can leap through the air and assert itself as a force to be reckoned with. These horses know the crowd is there to see them, and they put on a show. Whether they are striking a pose for a camera or running near 40 miles per hour on the track, showing off is natural to these animals. It never ceases to amaze me how smart horses are. They know that they are competing with other horses, and their will to win is astounding. Some of the most exciting moments in horse racing are when two horses in a stretch run look each other in the eye and battle it out for victory.

Horse racing offers us all these things, but I believe it all comes back to the horse and his spirit. Though it has been said time and time again, there really is “something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a person,” and that is what makes horse racing attractive to so many different people.

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