Before I start this piece, I would like to thank you for taking the time to open it. Your interest in the work of Champions of the Track means the absolute world.
Champions of the Track is run by me, Kaeli. I have loved horses and horse racing for as long as I can remember. I didn’t grow up around horses, but my parents made sure to buy me every horse movie, book, toy, and video game they could find. I spent my entire childhood learning everything I could about horses.
In 2009, my dad’s friend turned my tv onto the Kentucky Derby and told me that since I loved horses, I needed to be watching this. It was the year Mine That Bird won and is a memory that I will never forget. It’s safe to say that I was addicted to horse racing from that very moment on.
The next year my dad began taking me to Hoosier Park in Anderson, Indiana to watch harness racing. I picked my very first winner there -- that same friend of my dad’s bet on General Quarters because I liked him and he won!
Just a few years later my dad and I made the four hour drive to Lexington, Kentucky for Breyerfest 2012. It was there that I saw Thoroughbred racehorses for the first time in my entire life (retired racehorses, but still). Seeing horses like Cigar and Funny Cide was almost mind blowing to me. These were incredible racehorses right in front of me! On top of that, it was my first time every being in "horse country". It was comforting to see something horse or horse racing related around every corner, especially since I come from a place where horse racing is nowhere near that popular.
From that moment on I wanted to study veterinary medicine at the University of Kentucky. I dreamed of working as a vet at a racetrack like Saratoga or Belmont. It was the only way I could think to be able to be close to these magnificent animals and to help them when they were sick or injured. I would later realize that a career in veterinary medicine wasn't for me, but I still wanted to do something horse racing related.
In 2014 I started the Champions of the Track Facebook page. I had always enjoyed writing and history, so I began writing about the careers of my favorite racehorses. That led me to following the sport entirely. I would spent my days watching TVG, looking at charts on Equibase and seeing if I could pick the winner. I learned of so many horses that I would come to adore.
At night I would research and write about horses from the past, whether that meant a horse from 100 years ago or a horse from five years ago. I kept this up for a couple of years before teenage life became too distracting and I unpublished the page to take a few years off of horse racing.
But, it didn’t take long for my passion for horse racing to draw me right back in. I republished Champions of the Track in December of 2018 and created this website in February 2019. My boyfriend helped me design the site. He also created a logo for me. My dad started taking me to Indiana Grand regularly so I could try my hand at getting some photos.
I realized that this was something I could make my career, and a career that would make me happy at that! But I also knew that I wanted to do more than simply run a blog.
This time, I have a mission.
The Mission of Champions of the Track
Champions of the Track is dedicated to growing the popularity of horse racing through stories, photos, and videos. We aim for our content to reach new fans while also kindling the love of horse racing in current fans.
We support aftercare efforts and want the industry to make any reforms necessary to create a safer sport for both the horses and humans who work within this industry. What has been happening within our sport recently shows us that there are real and fundamental problems within the industry that need fixed. Not only from a safety perspective, but also in a PR and marketing perspective. We know that to create new fans of horse racing, we must find a way to help people connect with the horses, humans, and places involved with this sport.
We mainly work to accomplish this mission by:
Sharing Stories: I work to publish pieces on horse racing history, current events, and interesting things happening within the sport. Through these stories, I hope to have people learn about race horses they didn’t know about before, hear about the good things people are doing in the industry, and discover a new racehorse to follow and root for.
Visiting Horse Racing Destinations: The Champions of the Track team (my dad, boyfriend, and I) travel to different horse farms, tracks, and other racing destinations. While there, we take photos and videos to turn into content for our followers, whether that be a YouTube video, an article, or posting the videos and photos on social media. We do this to share these places, horses, and people with those who have not had the chance to visit them yet. We're not just talking the big farms and tracks, but also the smaller breeding operations and tracks in states where horse racing isn't as big.
On that same note, we hope that this content inspires our followers to get out to these farms and tracks and see it for themselves! We have only had the budget to make two trips to Kentucky so far, but we bought a van to camp in to help save money on traveling expenses. So -- more trips to Kentucky and other states coming soon!
Encouraging People To Get Involved: Champions of the Track is a huge advocate for getting people involved with horse racing. Many people think that this sport is only for “kings”, but you don’t have to have pockets filled with money to become a part of the industry. We love syndicates and racing clubs and encourage our followers to join these types of things!
Supporting Aftercare & OTTBs: I firmly believe that anyone who loves horse racing needs to support aftercare efforts. We are partners with CANTER USA, a non-profit organization dedicated to rehabilitating and rehoming retired racehorses. We support all aftercare efforts and encourage our followers to do the same. We work to publish stories on OTTBs and their new owners and help to promote horses currently available for adoption or purchase.
We have many other plans in the works to help the sport of horse racing grow so it will survive for future generations.
I have had such an amazing time running Champions of the Track for the past nine months. All I have to do is scroll through the comments and shares on my posts to know that it is making some sort of difference. I see people saying they've learned something new or that my posts inspired them to go to a farm or a track and I know that the work I am doing is worthwhile.
I have met so many incredible people and had so many unforgettable experiences. This blog has allowed me to do some things I dreamed about as a child but never got the chance to do. I got to watch races at Churchill Downs, see the historical Claiborne Farm, and see my favorite racehorse Union Rags at Lane’s End Farm. And the best part of it all is that I get to share it all with you, my audience! The people who make this all possible! I thank you for supporting Champions of the Track. I want this sport’s popularity to grow because it is a part of me. Horse racing is my passion and I am so lucky to have a platform to share this passion with all of you. I hope that the content we are creating touches you in some way. I hope that you learn something new or are reminded of something you already knew.
I hope that these stories, photos, and videos help all of you who have been unable to get to these places feel like you have been there. I hope that they fuel your love of horse racing.
If you’d like to support the mission & projects of Champions of the Track, you can make a donation here. Leave your address in a private message and I will send you a gift!
Enjoy this slideshow of the Champions of the Track team and our adventures: