Horse Racing

Our Voices: Happy Holidays – BloodHorse

As 2023 comes to a close, we’re looking forward to starting fresh in 2024. For me, the end of the year often brings with it time for personal reflection. I think about what went well, what didn’t, and where I can do better in the future. At the NTRA, we are constantly striving to support the industry in the most positive and productive way possible. As we look back on the highs and lows of 2023, it is my hope that in 2024 the NTRA can continue to work to better highlight our sport and tell the truly positive stories that we all experience on a daily basis.

There’s no denying it, 2023 brought challenges for our sport. Those that want to bring us down will never stop working against us. We need to tell our story better and make our voices louder than those wishing to tear us down. I have no doubt that the people in American racing will prevail as we always have.

We know how many loving hands touch each horse from sunup to sundown. We know how much love and care surrounds each animal. We know that the health and safety of every athlete is the absolute highest priority for all of us. So it is our job to tell that to the rest of the world.

This fall, the NTRA launched an initiative titled “Safety Takes The Lead,” in an effort to help the public see and better understand the overwhelming ecosystem of care surrounding our equine athletes. We need to let the public know how much love and care goes into every horse every day. This campaign has been designed to demonstrate the progress our sport has made over the years and exhibit our unwavering commitment to do more. With increased veterinary oversight, the utilization of state-of-the-art technology, and the implementation of HISA as a national regulator, it’s irrefutable that we are doing more and more to protect these beloved animals. But it’s the human story, and the deep connection between people and horses since the beginning of time, that we also need to continue to tell. 

No one could watch Jena Antonucci’s reaction to Arcangelo winning the Belmont Stakes and claim anything but love between her and that horse. It would be impossible to see the relationship between Cody Dorman and Cody’s Wish and not be inspired. While these are two of the stories that made national headlines this year, we all know that on every track, on every backstretch or farm, in every barn, every single day, these connections exist and are cherished by those who are blessed enough to work with these racehorses. It is these stories that together as an industry I hope we can tell in 2024. 

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One thing that always echoes during the holiday season, regardless of which holiday you may or may not celebrate, is the feeling of hope. I am eternally hopeful that our sport will be enjoyed by not only my children, but by future generations. I am hopeful that we as an industry can tell the story of the beautiful connection between horses and humans. And I am hopeful that 2024 will be better for us as a sport than 2023, and that our sport will thrive for years to come. 

Wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday season. 

Tom Rooney, president of NTRA



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