Lydia Folse

1. What attracted you to the horse racing industry?

When I was 12, my aunt took me to the Fair Grounds here in New Orleans for the first time and I was hooked! The whole experience — the horses, the atmosphere, the excitement — was unforgettable. In those days, the daily race results were part of the local sportscast so I began following the sport and trying to learn a little along the way. It was a great time to be introduced to the sport because it happened to be 1973 when a certain unforgettable legend became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. Go Big Red! As much as my dad and I enjoyed watching the big races on national TV, I had no idea that we were actually witnessing a legend that would forever leave his mark on the sport for generations to come. I believe Secretariat transformed the sport and brought it to the mainstream and continues to be one of the most recognized names in the industry even to those who were born long after his reign of glory. I think Secretariat is to horse racing what Elvis Presley is to rock and roll!

2. What aspect of horseracing do you enjoy the most?

As I said, the entire experience is a thrill ride. I enjoy the camaraderie among horse enthusiasts, reading about the history of the sport, learning about breeding and pedigree, attending live racing and meeting some of the legends. My first visit to Lexington was in 2017 — absolute heaven on earth! I try to visit Old Friends at least once a year and have been completely star struck meeting the greats such as War Emblem, Touch Gold, Silver Charm, Gameondude and my hometown favorite, Ide. I love visiting the large breeding operations as well and had the pleasure of meeting War Front and Orb at Claiborne a few months ago, and I’ll be visiting Taylor Made and Coolmore next month. The horse enthusiasts and connections I meet along the way are all so passionate and dedicated to their favorites and their charges, including TK, Michelle and the WVS family.

3. Why did you join the Wasabi Ventures Co-Owner Club?

I joined the club because of the benefits it offers to co-owners. Specifically: 1) TK has created a platform that allows co-ownership at nominal buy-in and low risk while offering transparency, educational opportunities, social interaction, exchange of ideas and feedback, etc. Members can choose to participate as actively or passively as their interest and schedules allow. 2) Safety of horses and riders is a priority. 3) WVS recognizes the need for viable aftercare/retirement options. 4) The affordable program has allowed me to participate in an experience that I never dreamed I would be able to become part of at any level!

4. Who is your favorite horse?

Toughest question to answer! Favorite legend — Ruffian. Favorite stud — Pioneer of the Nile, RIP. Favorite Triple Crown Winner — Justify. Louisiana favorite — Star Guitar. Favorite hard luck/great comeback story — The Player. WVS Favorite — Willie the Whale because he was one of my first purchases!

5. What issues in the industry would you like to see addressed?

If anything good can come from the recent string of breakdowns at Santa Anita, I hope it’s the consensus that reform is necessary, not negotiable. The sport needs standard regulations industry-wide that shift the focus to proactive rather than reactive measures that will promote horse and rider safety and mitigate the number and severity of injuries. Also, aftercare — aftercare — aftercare! Those magnificent athletes that give every ounce of their strength, determination and heart in training, on the track, or in the breeding shed deserve to be retired with dignity and cared for with love.