Introducing Equestricon: Horse racing convention, fan festival and trade show
Much about horse racing, a sport that has been around for centuries, is built on tradition and legacy. Many of the most important races and racetracks have been around for decades, if not centuries. However, racing has seen some meaningful changes in recent years, especially in the industry that surrounds it and supports it. With the advent of social media and other ways that people have become closer to the “Sport of Kings” than ever before, there are also new points of entry for fans to become participants, or more specifically to turn their passion for racing into a job or career.
At Equestricon — the first ever international horse racing convention, fan festival and trade show — those entry points will be fully integrated into the program (social media, technology, photography, handicapping) and new doors will be opened for both young people in the industry and those interested in starting a career in racing. Not only will there be entertainment for young fans, panels, seminars and networking events will also offer unprecedented access to those looking to get their foot in the door.
On Monday, August 14 (the first day of the Equestricon 2017 general session) from noon to 2 p.m., a five member panel will participate in a question-and-answer session discussing “How To Get Your First Job in Racing”. Attendees can expect advice on creative ways to make an impression on prospective racing employers. Since the panelists represent a wide range of interest areas in racing — media, marketing, ownership and breeding — attendees will have the opportunity to explore a multitude of interesting topics.
From there, attendees can continue the conversation with panelists and others in the industry in the first of two “Young Professionals in Racing Networking Sessions,” sponsored by major Equestricon supporters West Point Thoroughbreds. The first networking session will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. on Monday. For those who want to go to afternoon panels such as the “Q&A: Young Racing Photographers” session at 2 p.m. on Monday, a second networking session is scheduled for Tuesday.
Scheduled to take part in the networking sessions are horse owners like Justin Zayat (American Pharoah); young trainers Liam Benson and Norm Casse (Tepin); racing analysts Acacia Courtney (Gulfstream Park) and Megan Devine (Santa Anita); track announcers Travis Stone (NYRA) and Paul Espinosa (Charles Town) handicappers Jonathon Kinchen and Matt Bernier; and young influencers from the sales and breeding world, and many more.
The Equine Career Network (ECN) will participate at Equestricon, as well. ECN is a growing online resource, founded by young innovators Kelsey Sullivan and Kaitlyn Zaleski, connecting job seekers, employers and entrepreneurs in the larger equine industry. The goal for ECN is to be a resource for those on the hunt for a job in the industry, while also providing experiences and perspective from those that are shaping it today.
Sophie Shore, a University of Pennsylvania student, will participate in Equestricon’s “Q&A: Young Racing Photographers” session. She believes that the three-day Equestricon event provides a unique setting for younger people through both the panels and the networking events provided.
“The importance of Equestricon can’t be overstated to the young fan,” she said. “If a young person interested in any sport had the opportunity to engage with key, storied figures and major players within their chosen sport on the level that Equestricon provides for, I think they’d be chomping at the bit.
“Equestricon definitely merits that level of excitement, in my book,” Shore added. “In addition to the opportunities to interact with some of their favorite figures in racing, young people can also do quite a bit of networking with their peers and people that share similar professional aspirations within the industry. Like I said, it seems like too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
As a panelist in the inaugural Equestricon, Shore has a unique opportunity to talk about how those interested in working in racing can get their start by picking up a camera — which is how Shore is making inroads, herself, in the industry.
“Participation in media, whether journalism or photography, has acted in a way as a great outlet for younger people to, in a way, become more intensely involved in racing. More so, photography is in great part the lens through which racing is viewed by the layman in that if they aren’t actually attending a racing event, what they see is what’s been photographed,” she said.
“Everyone starts as a fan first, and every professional is, at his or her core, just a fan. With that being said, there is something in the racing industry for every type of young person, from entrepreneurs to writers and animal lovers. There’s plenty of room for growth, and I think bringing in young professionals to racing from varying backgrounds will help diversify the perspectives and trajectories of the sport.”
And although she’s already made strides in launching her own career in racing, Shore plans on taking advantage of every event at Equestricon; Her goal is to learn as much as possible about the industry she loves.
“I’m hoping to attend as much as I can, especially for the purpose of getting a bit of a well-rounded education over the course of the weekend. I’m looking to attend the Breeding Industry Q&A, as well as the Aftercare Pathways Panel. I also want to explore some of the sides and figures of the industry that I am not as familiar with, including International Perspectives and the BEST Seminar. Two events that I think will be of instrumental importance for young women in racing like myself are the Young Professionals Networking Sessions as well as the Women in Racing Panel, so I will try to attend those as well,” she said.
Equestricon runs from Aug. 13 to 15th in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. during both Saratoga Race Course’s summer race meet and a Fasig-Tipton sale, giving fans many different activities to take part in during the three days. Those interested in Equestricon can visit www.Equestricon.com for more information.