Trainers' kids take to social media to provide exclusive Derby Week access
They are the sons and daughters of some of most well-known horse trainers and they are giving fans access to some exclusive scenes as they prepare for the Kentucky Derby.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- They are the sons and daughters of some of most well-known horse trainers and they are giving fans access to some exclusive scenes as they prepare for the Kentucky Derby.
“Taking photos of the horses, showing what are morning trainings are like....being with our moms and dads who have horses in this big race," said Bailey Romans, 23. "I have experienced so many really great opportunities because of this industry. We want to show a different side of horse racing, a little glimpse into our lives, show people how amazing these animals are."
So this week, as the 20 horses and their trainers prepare for the big day, it's the trainers kids who are providing you with "a little more behind the scenes than people typically get to see."
Sponsored by the Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, Romans and about 14 others are taking to social media to post pictures and videos of Brody’s Cause, Mohaymen, Exaggerator, Mo Tom and Tom’s Ready, to name a few.
You can follow along by using the hashtag #KyDerbyKids on Twitter and Facebook.
“This is a unique way to bring the passion of the Kentucky Derby and horse racing to teenagers and young adults, actually to people of all ages,” said Marty Maline, executive director of the Kentucky HBPA. “The Kentucky horsemen are proud to sponsor this terrific endeavor and showcase the amazing sons and daughters of our Derby horsemen. What better way than through social media.”
Romans, 23, grew up on the backside of Churchill Downs. Her grandfather, the late Jerry Romans, was a trainer. Her dad, Dale Romans, is training Brody's Cause in the Derby and Go Maggie Go in the Kentucky Oaks and is one of the most successful trainers at Churchill Downs.
Her mom, Tammy Fox, is an exercise rider who gallops both contenders.
"Both of my parents are involved in every aspect of this industry and to be here in Louisville, there is nothing bigger than this."
Dale Romans also has Cherry Wine that might make it into the field of 20 if other horses defect from Saturday's race. And while he has saddled many horses at Churchill Downs -- many on Derby day -- none have won. He did train the winner of the 2011 Preakness Stakes, Shackleford.
"I remember coming up here as a little kid and walking up and down the shedrow," said Romans, who graduated from du Pont Manual High School. "My favorite part is coming back to the barn after I was gone at college or gone working around the country....and just walking back to the barn. When you breathe in that air, it makes it feel like home to me."
Ashley Amoss, 25, is the daughter of Tom Amoss, who is training Mo Tom in the Derby and Venus Valentine in the Oaks. She and her sister, Hayley Amoss, are both tweeting pictures from the Kentucky HBPA Twitter account.
"Growing up, this has always been my dad's workplace, I was never a kid who was at the track all the time," Ashley Amoss said. "It's cool to be out here and see it, to appreciate what this whole industry is about."
Amoss said she hopes people will "see what it takes to train a Derby horse."
"It's like I tell my friends, the Derby is the Super Bowl and you have all of these races that lead up to it," she said. "My dad spent half the year away from his family preparing these horses for a chance at this one day. To be in the Derby and have a legitimate shot is super exciting."
The idea for the social media campaign came from longtime turf writer Jennie Rees.
"I thought it was a great idea," Amoss said. "We get to share some of the inner workings of the week."
At some point this week, the teenagers and young adults participating in this campaign will post video features of them interviewing their dads or moms -- surely asking questions no reporter would think or know to ask, and quite possibly getting answers no trainer would tell the media.
"This could get pretty interesting," Amoss said with a laugh.
And their insight will extend beyond the twin spires of Churchill Downs -- they will share shopping trips, what it's like to be at the post position draw (which happens to be tonight) and how they and their families are feeling in the days leading up to the race.
"I still have to figure out what I am going to wear for both the Oaks and the Derby," Amoss said. "There is so much I still need to do."
So far, there are 14 kids of horse trainers who are participating in this venture. They include:
- Ashley Amoss (Tom Amoss) Mo Tom
- Hayley Amoss (Tom Amoss) Mo Tom
- Keith Asmussen (Steve Asmussen) Gun Runner, Creator
- Colby Casse (Mark Casse) Fellowship
- Blake Cox (Brad Cox) Dazzling Gem
- Bryson Cox (Brad Cox) Dazzling Gem
- Bailey Desormeaux (Keith Desormeaux) Exaggerator
- Erin McLaughlin (Kiaran McLaughlin) Mohaymen
- Chance Moquett (Ron Moquett) Whitmore
- Hannah Pletcher (Todd Pletcher) Destin, Outwork
- Blayne Prochaska (Scott Blasi) Gun Runner, Creator
- Bailey Romans (Dale Romans) Brody’s Cause, Cherry Wine
- Wes Stewart (Dallas Stewart) Tom’s Ready
- Tess Von Hemel (Donnie K. Von Hemel) Suddenbreakingnews
And the Kentucky HBPA, which represents more than 6,000 owners and trainers and is one of the country’s largest thoroughbred horsemen’s groups is donating $100 to the charity of choice for all the #KyDerbyKids participants.
As for Amoss and Romans, the moment they are both looking forward to this week is the same.
"My favorite part is the walk up from the stalls," Amoss said. "Thouands and thousands of people just cheering...and you just look around and it really takes your breath away."
"The walk from the barn to the paddock and then to the track," Romans said. "It's such a special moment. You are excited, the horses are excited, everyone is smiling and happy. It's such a great, awesome feeling."
Their other favorite part: the singing of My Old Kentucky Home.
Look for videos and pictures of both things on Saturday.
Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.
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