Meet Former Groom Christie Lane Craven, Wasabi Ventures Stables Co-Owner Club Member

Christie with Pin Oak Stud stallion Alternation in November 2016

What attracted you to the horse racing industry?

I was your typical horse-crazy little girl. We didn’t have a Thoroughbred track close to us, so I started by watching Standardbred Racing. I grew up in southern Maryland, where Rosecroft Raceway is located. My dad used to take me to the harness races. However, I got really annoyed because in Standardbred racing they don’t run. When they break pace, they have to go to the back until they regain their stride. So, I thought, ”This is fun, but why don’t you just let them run as fast as they can?”

Now that I live more north, I’m about seven miles from Laurel Park, and it’s very nice. I can go there a lot to see the Thoroughbred races.

In Standardbred, or harness, racing the horses race in one of two specific gaits - a trot or a pace - pulling a light two-wheeled vehicle called a sulky. Standardbreds tend to have longer bodies and more muscular builds than Thoroughbreds.

I started out in the Thoroughbred Racing industry working as a groom and hot walker for Phil, Dale, and Gary Capuano for a while at the Bowie Training Center. Then I went to the University of Maryland for their Equine Business Management Program. I was sent down to Kentucky for six months to complete my internship at Pin Oak Stud, a beautiful brood mare farm owned by Josephine Abercrombie. They currently stand two stallions, Broken Vow and Alternation. I was there when Alternation foaled, and I was his groom when he was a baby.

I’m not working in the industry anymore, but I’m still really involved in it as much as I can be. Though my profession is real estate, I try to stay involved and support the industry through my co-owner partnerships and going to various tracks. I was able to attend Preakness, Breeder’s Cup, and Pegasus World Cup for a Stronach track trifecta recently.

I also support various Thoroughbred aftercare endeavors such as Thoroughbred Placement Resources (TPR), Retired Racehorse Project (RRP), Rerun, and One Last Race. Additionally, I enjoy taking pictures at the races and sharing them with other fans and the horses’ connections where possible. I also enjoy going to Thoroughbred sales and attending various racing seminars.

Christie and Jockey Mike Smith at a charity signing at the 2016 Breeder’s Cup at Santa Anita Park

What aspect of horse racing do you enjoy the most?

The coolest thing has been the various co-owner partnerships that I have become a part of over the past two years. It’s a totally different experience being at a track and cheering for your horse versus cheering for one you don’t own. I’ve always had favorites that I’d like to see win, but it’s different when it’s yours.

I have shares in a few 3-year-old fillies through Country Life Farm, a couple of brood mare partnerships, and I co-own two horses with Wasabi Ventures Stables.

Just being at the racetrack with the animals is also really great. You’re dealing with living, breathing, temperamental, emotional animals that sometimes do what you want them to do and sometimes they don’t.

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

I definitely think that we need to have a more universal governing body. I know people don’t really like being told what to do, but the rules differ so much from track to track.

I also think we need a more universal medication policy and stricter enforcement of it to clean up our image in front of those outside of the industry. A lot of people have this perception that we’re drugging and beating the horses to make them run, and that’s not happening in most cases.

We’ve done a good job with aftercare. We’re starting to really stand up for the horses once they’re done racing. I try to support efforts such as the Retired Racehorse Project, which has really made a difference. In the past five years, there has been a huge difference in Thoroughbred aftercare.

As shown in the photo above, the microchipping process involves implanting an electronic RFID microchip in the the left side of the horse’s neck halfway between the poll and withers approximately 2 inches below the mane line

This is the first year that it’s mandatory to microchip all registered foals, which allows the horses to be tracked throughout their racing careers. In 2016, the microchipping process for registered foals was rolled out, but it wasn’t required at that time. This process will result in better tracking than lip tattoos. You can’t read a lip tattoo a week after they’re applied. They’re on the inside of the horse’s lip and the animal may not want to be touched.

It would be nice if auction houses were required to scan for microchips and the horses’ identifying information could go into a database online where people could set up an alert. In this way, anyone interested would get emailed when a horse shows up for auction.

I think tracking will help considerably. There’s always a groom, hot walker, trainer, breeder, or somebody else that handled a horse that would want the animal. They just don’t know if the horse is in trouble.

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

The coolest thing about the club is that there are no unexpected expenses for the co-owners. I know exactly what I’m spending on the horses, unlike other co-owner partnerships. For instance, I don’t get a big vet bill because one of my horses hurt itself in the stall or needs acupuncture.

There’s a lot more involved in taking care of a racehorse than there is in taking care of, for example, a horse standing in a field. At the racetrack, the horses are given various supplements and treatments to try to keep them at optimal health. As a horse owner, you never know what’s going to be on a vet bill. It’s a little unnerving. You can’t get involved in too many horses because you must keep in mind those months when you’re going to get hit with insurance, a big trailer fee, or a costly medical bill. It’s so unpredictable.

I can join seven horses with Wasabi Ventures Co-Owner Club and know exactly what it’s going to cost me. And it’s never going to cost me anything else.

Who is your favorite horse?

My all-time favorite would be Secretariat. He won the Triple Crown the year I was born, so I never got to see him race in person, but he’s always been fascinating to me.

I like a lot of local horses, too. It’s really cool to have horses like Ben’s Cat in Maryland. He’s a big deal here. He’s just this hard-knocking gelding who just ran a bunch of times and is really consistent. There are quite a few horses like that in Maryland, who show up year after year and get quite a following.

Would you like to learn more about Wasabi Ventures Stables? Sign up to attend our upcoming webinars at https://wasabistables.com/webinars.