(Photo credit: Annie Ringwelski)
Unlike my horses, I officially change the year on my actually birthday as opposed to January 1. This year brings to 47 the number of times that I’ve flipped the calendar and I’m greyer, fatter and sorer than I’ve ever been (thankfully I still have a crapload of Greek hair)! I’m also deeper into racing than I ever thought I would be – so the tradeoff is equal in my book.
We’re examining possible breeding options for our mare; we have a two-year old that is showing some ability; we nearly have a 2013 claiming group full; I’ve celebrated two seasons with the DRF covering the greatest little racetrack in America; the good folks at Canterbury let me on the air on a semi-regular basis; I’ve spent a wonderful year on the board of the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association (and hope they’ll have me for many more); and nearly got our little posse on the map as part of a new reality series. I’m a quasi-regular helping out with my picks sure to go wrong with Hello Race Fans and this blog has developed a solid following (love you mom!). The cherry on the cake is that Minnesota racing is looking as good as it ever has with a future as bright as can be and I’m lucky enough to be involved in it, even in some small way.
I look back at this and realize I barely even dreamt it was possible I was punching tickets at Pimlico on Preakness Day back in 1988. I loved racing so much and kept close tabs on it for years and nearly always went to bed thinking that it would be great to actually be involved; to be a part of the action; to be on the inside looking out rather than on the outside looking in; to make some kind of a living on the game/industry/sport I love so very much.
I can’t say that I made it – I still have a “regular” job that, thankfully, allows me to do the rest – but I can say that I’m a lot closer than I ever dreamed possible. Over the years I kept it in my sights and in the back of my mind. I had some very, very lucky breaks and some key people (David Miller and Jeff Maday immediately spring to mind) that came along at the right time to help me – debts I can never properly repay. But when I saw an opportunity to move forward in racing I tried to seize it – some that worked and some that didn’t.
Failure is always a step away. If you fail 80% of the time in this game you’re doing pretty well. Only 70% failure rate? You’re amazing. Tabby Lane won 25% of her career races and, as a stable over the years we’ve been able to win just shade under 20% with our in the money percentage at 51%. Horses that we’ve been involved with have won nearly $200,000 and that’s not bad when you consider that we’ve never run in a single stakes race. Yup – I’ve been mighty lucky and I appreciate every little bit of it.
To close my birthday ramblings, I want to throw one piece of advice (I know, I shouldn’t be giving advice until I hit 50…): while you can’t be afraid to fail, never be afraid to succeed. As you get more successful you’ll generate more opportunities to be even more successful and they may be a bit out of your comfort zone. Take them. Get over it and take them. You’ll grow from the experience and you’ll gain confidence along the way. It will be breed more success. Get out of your own way and just make it happen. I’ve tried to do that this year and, for the most part, it’s worked out pretty well. There may be more failure ahead – undoubtedly so – but it won’t come from never having tried.