By NICOLLE NEULIST
Whether it involves working directly with horses at the track, owning and breeding racehorses, or communicating racing news and analysis, there is a growing place for the Hispanic community in our sport. Equestricon will feature an all-star panel, with content in both English and Spanish, featuring Hispanic leaders from across the racing industry. Panelists include Hall of Fame jockey Ramón Dominguez, Fasig-Tipton market representative Ramiro Restrepo, and NYRA race caller Luis Grandison. Roberto Rodriguez of HRRN en Español will moderate the panel.
In this panel, Rodriguez aims to provide a comprehensive view of horse racing and how Hispanic people can get involved. The panelists bring a great breadth of experience: Dominguez has ridden in top-flight races at Saratoga and beyond, and worked closely with horses day in and day out. Restrepo can discuss the pedigree aspects, as well as the experience of getting people from Latin America involved in horse racing in the United States. And, Grandison brings forty years of race calling experience in both Panama and the United States.
Moderator Roberto Rodriguez is himself a preeminent Spanish-language voice in United States horse racing. He broadcasts on Horse Racing Radio Network En Español and his Spanish-language racing news website ElPotroRoberto.com. He sees the panel, like the work that he and everyone else on the panel do day in and day out, as answering a need to better connect Hispanic horse racing fans with the sport. Rodriguez observed, “There is a large community of horse racing fans – they don’t get the information they’re supposed to have because they don’t have it in their own language.”
He sees Luis Grandison’s role at NYRA, as a Spanish-language race caller, to be the beginning of a future trend. NYRA is the only American circuit to narrate races in both English and Spanish. “I think in the future,” said Rodriguez, “all the tracks are going to have it.”
Panelist Ramón Dominguez agrees with the need for horse racing in the United States to do more to engage Spanish-speaking racing fans. “That is very important, and it’s something we need to do better than we have at this point. Because, the Hispanic demographic is quite large in the US,” he said. “It’s great for them to hear from another Spanish-speaking person.”
Dominguez will share the importance of seeing Thoroughbred racing as more than just gambling. He aims to focus on the beauty of the races and the complexities behind the scenes that allow the horses to make it to the track in the first place. Dominguez emphasized why Saratoga is a perfect place for this conversation. “It’s a very unique place where the fan can actually get to experience the beauty of the sport, and not only the betting aspect, that’s just one component of racing. It’s a whole.”
The panel will also highlight the growing role for the Hispanic community in bloodstock and ownership. According to panelist Ramiro Restrepo of Fasig-Tipton, this influx of Latin American owners and breeders opens up a great opportunity for Hispanic people to break into horse racing. That outlook stems from his own experience building relationships with owners and trainers from Latin America and helping them enter horse racing in the United States. Restrepo reflected, “It’s so wild…in two and a half years, my role in the company went from ‘let’s just focus on one particular sale in Miami for two-year-olds’ to being able to impact all of our sales up and down the east coast.”
Restrepo has witnessed growing Latin American influence in United States racing – and you probably have, too. Dazzling sophomore filly Unique Bella bears the silks of Chilean-based Don Alberto. Rebel Stakes (G2) winner Malagacy is owned by Sumaya U. S. Stables. That is the stateside racing arm of Haras Sumaya – the Chilean breeding farm that will stand two-time horse of the year California Chrome during Southern Hemisphere breeding season.
In the increasingly international world of racing, Restrepo emphasizes the value of shared language and cultural knowledge when reaching out to Latin American communities. “It just helps that much more in business: you’re providing that extra level of comfort and understanding that helps and makes business transactions be so much more smooth.”
Ramiro Restrepo, Ramón Dominguez, Luis Grandison, and Roberto Rodriguez bring this wealth of expertise into their panel at Equestricon – and they are here to help you find your place in horse racing. “This is not about me, or any of the other panelists,” reflected Dominguez. “It’s about the fans. Our goal is to be able to also educate them and answer any questions that they may have.”
So whether you know what aspect of horse racing inspires you most, or you’re looking to learn where you can make the best impact, come to the Hispanic Leaders in Racing panel at Equestricon! The panel happens on Tuesday, August 15 from 1:00pm-3:00pm. Your language and culture are assets, and this event will help you gain the knowledge and perspectives to take the next step toward your future in the sport.