The road (or track) to the Breeder’s Cup 2016: How a non-sports person became excited about horse racing.

This weekend I watched the Gold Cup at Santa Anita Park on television, and now I’m even more amped about attending the Breeder’s Cup in November. 

There’s one characteristic that my family and friends would never use to describe me, and that is being a sports enthusiast. Sure, I went to some NBA games with my dad while in high school, and I attend local roller derby games to fiercely cheer on my favorite player (and childhood best friend), but typically sports don’t do much for me. Sorry, dad.

The reason I got into watching horse racing initially wasn’t even because of the sport but in part because of the “human interest” story behind California Chrome. 

If you haven’t heard of him and love an underdog story, look him up! I’ll wait… He is currently the highest earning thoroughbred in North American history, currently having earned $12.5 million! And he came into his owners’ lives for only $10,500. Like that’s not a lot of money to most of us, right? However, in the horse breeding world, it’s not much. This is all magnified by the fact that I’m from Northern California and so are his majority owners. His Triple Crown run was a BIG deal here.

He won the 2014 Kentucky Derby… and then the Preakness… Could this underdog horse actually win the Belmont and the coveted Triple Crown? He fell short for the last crown jewel, but he still fell into the hearts of many Americans, international fans, and many who weren’t interested in horse racing before. It’s the story behind the horse who beat so many odds.

Since then, I’ve watched many of his other races on television, including the more recent San Pasqual Stakes and the richest race in the world – the Dubai World Cup (both of which he won). I now also watch the Triple Crown races each year. I still enjoy the pre-race coverage just as much as the races themselves because it all goes back to their stories.

Another reason why I got into the sport – the horses. Those who know me would definitely call me an animal lover. I wouldn’t be overly excited about meeting a professional NFL, NBA, or MLB star, but you better believe I want to see the horses in the paddock when I visit Santa Anita Park in person. These horses train long and hard like any other athlete. They are beautiful animals that just like to run and they’re good at it. They’re not doing it for the trophies or floral garlands, and they don’t play unfairly and act like jerks in interviews.  I cannot really dislike any of the competition (even those racing against California Chrome).

Sure, they’re put into this game not by choice. Their connections may be partially in it for the money and notoriety, but not the horses.

The more races I watch this year, the more I get excited for the Breeder’s Cup. Some horses have been familiar to me since watching my first race while others like Nyquist and Exaggerator are recent big race winners. I haven’t seen many filly races, but Beholder looks like a strong contender for the Breeder’s Cup, and I’d love to see her run with the boys.

If you’re interested in seeing these beautiful horses on their journey to the Breeder’s Cup, check out http://breederscup.com and Breeder’s Cup on social media.

I’m ready to cross this event off my adventure wish list. November 5th is looking to be a great day at the races!

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