It was fate that brought Courier-Journal turf writer Jennie Rees and horse owner Beth Condren together two years ago to form Females Are Thoroughbred Enthusiasts (FATE). The two met at a thoroughbred owners awards ceremony when Beth’s husband hosted Jennie at their table. By the end of the night the two women were finishing each other’s sentences.
A few months later, Jennie attended a webinar about the horse industry held by West Point Thoroughbred's Terry Finley. In a sport that struggles to increase its fan base, Terry Finley challenged webinar attendants to introduce three new people to the race track in the four months leading up to Kentucky Derby 135. Jennie felt compelled to answer the call. Although Jennie knew plenty of people, most had already been to the race track on several occasions. She mentioned this to her new friend, Beth. Beth knew plenty of people as well and most didn’t know much about the race track. It was that day over lunch that FATE was created.
The mission of the group is to "demystify horse racing by using fun, social settings to teach women about the sport." The group has hosted several handicapping seminars since its inception that have featured handicapping experts like John Asher, Jill Byrne, and Caton Bredar. The free seminars have been held in the Churchill Downs press box, local restaurants, and Beth's own house. I recently attended a FATE gathering and was impressed not only by how informative the seminar was, but by how friendly and approachable Jennie, Beth, and guest speaker Caton Bredar were with all attendees. This was not your typical handicapping seminar where the novices hold their tongues because they're too embarrassed to ask a question that the more experienced attendees or hosts may find stupid. This was a gathering of friends that had come together to talk about the Kentucky Derby, analyze the horses, watch race replays, share ideas and stories, and have a cocktail or two. The women at this seminar left knowing more about horse racing and excited about the Kentucky Derby and its contenders.
FATE is planning another gathering at Churchill Downs on a yet-to-be-determined date during the Spring Meet. They are also planning a summer outing to WinStar Farm (home of Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver) and an event at Keeneland in the fall. So, now I challenge you to introduce three new friends to FATE and join the ladies at the next event!
You can follow FATE on Facebook or join the mailing list at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Courtesy Shoot-It Photography