Meet Alyssa, Lyss for short. She is 28 years old and either had or has been around horses since she was about four years old. She was born in Arizona and growing up split her time between Arizona and Illinois. She now lives, works, and goes to school on the Space Coast of Florida and lives across the Indian River from Kennedy Space Center. She loves to read, watch movies and is an amateur photographer.
What attracted you to the horse racing industry?
I did not have a real interest in horse racing outside of the three races of the Triple Crown, and the only track I can recall ever being to was Turf Paradise in Arizona, and that was more than likely because we got invited for some event perhaps by my Mom’s employer. At that time I was still too young to grasp the concept of horse racing.
It was not until I got more involved with the rescue/retirement facility that I am a volunteer for that my interest in racing peaked. Having to research and understand what these retired Thoroughbreds were about made me interested in the Thoroughbred industry as a whole and racing seemed like the logical starting point.
What aspect of horse racing do you enjoy the most?
I love seeing a horse that truly enjoys what it does. Of course, there is nothing like the winner’s circle, but for me, it is watching these fantastic athletes give their hearts to do the best they can. Even if it doesn’t win that particular race, knowing it enjoys its job is the most thrilling part.
Why did you join the Wasabi Ventures Co-Owner Club?
I was very skeptical after I first heard about Wasabi through the RRP website. They held a contest for 1% stake in a racehorse, but I didn’t win. So I was curious and did as much as I could to figure out if anything would be due after the initial join fee. (There really aren’t any other fees!) I was excited to be able to experience owning racehorses, and now I hold stakes in three, lol.
I appreciate the candidness TK and the others have with newbies like me. I know very little about racing and even less about how to bet on racing. Giving me this first-hand experience I feel will help me in the long run as I get further along in my education, which is going to be focusing partly on the equine industry.
Being in Florida, I have the lucky opportunity to visit Gulfstream and cheer on one of my horses, Watch Your Step when he does eventually go to Gulfstream and not Gulfstream West which is even further from me.
Who is your favorite horse?
My favorites racing right now are Southern Phantom and Starresha. I am a big fan of the unusual Thoroughbreds, horses that are not your primary bay, brown, chestnut or grey. I am drawn to the colored Thoroughbreds and seeing Southern Phantom with his Splash and Starresha with a type of white mutations and doing well is so exciting to me. I would love to see more colored Thoroughbreds on the tracks and not just in the show rings. Don’t get me wrong though I am a fan of the fiery red-headed mare any day.
Big Brown is my favorite Kentucky Derby winner he won the year I graduated high school (2008), and I especially loved that he was named and co-owned by employees from UPS. I thought that was special.
I also have to recognize one of my favorite retirees that I have had the pleasure of working with at Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds; The Fed Eased or Fed as we called him. He was the spunkiest bay gelding and just so mischievous. He is one of the highest earners on the track that has come through our doors since I have been with the organization. He was adopted last year by the YMCA camp in Tallahassee and is taking kids on trails and living a fabulous life.
What issues in the industry would you like to see addressed?
I feel many tracks are losing touch with their audiences. Mainly ones that are not reached by normal means of communication. Bringing the younger generation to explore what it means to be involved in the horse racing industry is what, I think, will help bring this sport back to a place of popular opinion. Opening up the stable area, as well as allowing guests to walk through the paddock areas, and talk to the owners, grooms, trainers, etc., about their horses is such a fantastic experience. Especially for those whose only idea of horse racing is the idea of using whips and spurs to make a horse run.
Opening up to the OTTB world is also something I would love to see not only tracks do, but the owners and breeders of these horses as well. I went to RRP’s Makeover this year, and I was more excited to see WinStar at the event than most of the sponsors because I knew if WinStar was there then that meant they not only cared about their horses after their days of racing they wanted to connect with OTTB owners. It was also amazing to see Godolphin sponsoring one of the awards for the Finale. I mentioned to TK and Jen, from the Retired Racehorse Project, that Wasabi Stables needed to bring their idea to the Makeover next year because this is what could help bridge the gap between the two worlds. I’m excited if this comes to fruition in large part because of the adoption possibilities it opens for our horses in Wasabi Venture Stables. I am a supporter of the Retired Racehorse Project and have been twice now. This year was their largest event by far. I’d like to believe if more racing farms were willing to connect with those who take their retirees early maybe we wouldn’t see so many that slip through the cracks.
Speaking of cracks, I believe there needs to be more accountability in the event a horse is found at auction where kill buyers are present. I understand many of these horses retire to new homes in the assumption that they are going to be taken care of for the rest of their lives. Keeping track of those that are given to homes in the event something happens they can intervene before the horse is lost to history because it just disappears. A perfect example is Zenyatta’s brother Souper Spectacular who was found at an auction house somewhere in Georgia by a family and paid a little over $500 for him and named him Seven. It wasn’t until she posted photos of him and explained his story to a group on Facebook that pieces of the puzzles began to fit. There are still pieces of his story that are missing, and even though no one blames Live Oak for what happened. I do feel they dropped the ball by not following up with the original home they sent him to and as we do in the rescue world, require the new owner to fill out an application form with current photos so that we know the horse is okay.