Growing Up in Racing by Christina Olivares

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I was born on a Tuesday. A scheduled C-section. A Tuesday because that was a dark day at Santa Anita and my dad could be there because he wasn’t riding. Oh yeah, and the hospital was Arcadia Methodist…..right across the street from Santa Anita. My first memory of the track is actually of the security guard outside the jocks room. For more than a few afternoons, this poor guy had to sit with me playing My Little Ponies outside the room while my dad rode. He was part security guard, part babysitter; and I wasn’t the only kid hanging around. For me, growing up in racing was much more about the people than the actual horse races. Picture this…..my little brother challenging Bill Shoemaker to a wrestling match on the beach, childhood birthday parties with the McCarron girls, and virtually spending just as much time at the home of Gary Stevens as I did my own! But none of this hit home for me until I started working at TVG. It was, as I grew to understand, racing on a broader scale which made me realize how incredible my childhood memories are. Del Mar seems to stick out. In fact, as I reminisce, most of my memories are of the beach on 18th street with friends, but I think that’s normal for any kid. Summertime is where you create the experiences that shape your childhood. As I grew up though, I didn’t have a sense that this was different or unique in any way. It’s not really. Just as if your father was a lawyer or a police officer, your memories would involve those co-workers. Mine involved my father’s co-workers at the track. Shoemaker, McCarron, Delahoussaye, Pincay, Stevens, Desormeaux…..these are the guys that so many great horses over the years have been connected to. But Shoemaker to me was “Amanda’s Dad”. McCarron “Kristin’s Dad”. Stevens “Ashley’s Dad”. But as I say, now, I can truly appreciate those experiences because I’m such a big racing FAN. TVG has put my childhood into perspective for me. I will forever cherish the days on the beach in Del Mar and the afternoons running around the paddock at Santa Anita. It is those relationships that have allowed me the access to various connections in our sport and in turn given me the opportunity to share their stories with our TVG audience. And the connections keep coming. Even now, five years into my position with TVG, I’ll meet new trainers, jockeys or owners who have stories that take me back to my childhood. It’s a great way to break the ice and get an interview going!

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