They were fans of horse racing, so they started Fans of Horse Racing
Mark Hetherman, 64 and his son, Joey, 23 initiated their twitter based Fans of Horse Racing project last June. This has everything to do with their love of the sport and their desire to create a balance when people talk about it.
“In horse racing, there can be an ongoing negative approach,” says Mark Hetherman. “We thought that we’ve met a lot of great people in the sport, a lot of the jockeys and trainers and we wanted to show people that there’s a lot of good in the game.”
Father and son have some great travelling experience that lends itself to storytelling and a well researched backdrop for commentary on racing. We got Hetherman to list all the tracks he’s had the pleasure of visiting.
“Well, there’s Woodbine, Mohawk, Flamboro, Western Fair, Fort Erie, Hiawatha Horse Park, Rideau Carlton, Hippodrome in Quebec, Stampede Park, Northlands Park, Fraser Downs and Assinniboia Downs,” he starts. “Then in the U.S., we’ve gone to Emerald Downs because we lived in Seattle for three years, Golden Gate, Fairgrounds, Delta Downs, Tampa Bay, Gulfstream, Pompano, Pocono, Presquile Downs and Mountaineer.”
Fans of Horse Racing, almost by definition, wishes to promote the uplifting elements of the sport.
“We’ve been fans of drivers and jockeys who often take fan abuse because it’s a wagering game and when you don’t win money, it’s easy to attribute blame,” says Hetherman. “Then we started thinking about the breeding side. It’s an amazing. I’ve been to a number of breeding farms and witnessed the whole process and we felt that almost nothing was done from that perspective. We’ve done a whole section on female power on all the women in the sport. We’ve done 50 articles on that aspect. It’s a big piece of horse racing that kind of gets lost in today’s world of gender equality. Horse racing has a massive amount of women participating in the sport at every level from executives to people working with the horses, grooms, trainer, hot walkers and of course, the jockeys.”
The Hethermans like to bet on the horses – hey who doesn’t, but Mark is a little sheepish to reveal his biggest win at the track.
“My greatest score embarrassingly enough was a quick pick that I did at Greenwood years ago,” he says. “I was just hanging around waiting for a specific race and I went to the automatic machine and hit a quick pick. It paid $3,000 and change. So it wasn’t a result of my brilliant handicapping. However, that is a good feature for people that the machines do have a kind of slot machine approach to them that you can hit a quick pick and have a chance to win.”
When we spoke with Hetherman, he seemed on the fence about who he thought might win the Kentucky Derby. Then he lays a huge scoop on us. He owned the horse that last year won the Derby and the Haskell Stakes. Well, sort of.
“We bought a couple shares from Myracehorse.com of Authentic,” he reveals. “So we had a great year watching him compete in the big races and making all his winnings and then retiring to the breeding shed. That’s a great positive in this sport – the ability to get into ownership for a very small investment. There’s nothing nicer than going to the racetrack and seeing your name in a program.”
The fractional ownership story of Authentic is fascinating. Myracehorse.com owns 12.5% of Authentic and that is comprised of 5,300 shares that cost $206 each. Even though Authentic won over $7.2 million in his abbreviated racing career (6 wins, 2 seconds in 8 starts), the micro shareholders haven’t been cashed out. There is genuine anticipation that the proceeds from Authentic the stallion might produce small cheques in each of the next 10 years. Authentic’s initial stud fee is $75,000.
As Fans of Horse Racing expands, Hetherman advises they will be adding a handicapping side.
“Anybody can pick a favourite – just look at the program,” he says. “But we’ll be using our experience to select out some long shots, Pick 3’s and Pick 4s that you can buy for $0.20 and maybe hit a decent return on your wager. For someone who finds the form too complicated, rather than spending a lot of time trying to figure it all out, we’ll provide a couple of tips to help them enjoy their night at the races.”
There’s one aspect of horse racing that Hetherman is very passionate about. With all the major sports struggling with equal hiring challenges, horse racing seems to be at the leading edge of that argument.
“In horse racing, there’s no quota,” says Hetherman. “If you’re good enough you just get to do it. “You don’t have to be incentivized. You don’t have to be told to hire people. Because it’s a sport of money, whatever gets your horse to the finish line is all that matters. The colour of your skin and the nature of your gender mean nothing if you’re good at what you do. This is what makes horse racing much more fair than other sports.”
Down The Stretch encourages you to find Fans of Horse racing and it’s easier than picking an exactor in a 5-horse race.
“Just go to twitter.com and look for @fanshorseracin1,” instructs Hetherman.
You will know you’re in the right place when you see their message:
WE CELEBRATE the BIG positive NEWS of HORSE RACING. We scour all Racing news to bring you the positive stories each day. No need to do it yourself. follow us!