Once among America's most favorite pastimes, horse racing's golden era is many years behind us. As our Matt Hunter reports, staff at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame are hopeful a new exhibit will help attract the next generation of fans to the sport.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – In the centuries-old tradition of breeding thoroughbred race horses, Walter Borisenok's Old Tavern Farm is a newcomer, having opened near Saratoga Lake less than two years ago.
"A mare gives birth and within a few moments, this horse stands, and then a couple days later, the same foal is running around in the field,” Borisenok said Tuesday. “It is fascinating to see."
Despite its recent entry into the blue-blooded sport, the farm will be among the very first to broadcast the foaling of a new thoroughbred live on the internet when its mare, Memento d'Oro, gives birth in the spring.
"Her due date is at the end of March, so that will be exciting," Borisenok said of the five-year-old mare whose father, Medaglia d’Oro, won the 2002 Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
With two in New York and six in Kentucky, Old Tavern Farm is one of eight breeding operations featured in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame's new "Foal Patrol" exhibit, which was unveiled Tuesday. Through mobile devices and computers, it allows fans to track the progress of eight prominent mares through their pregnancies and as their foals grow up. The museum also features a display in the lobby.
"Most people get their introduction to racing at the track, which is great, but they don’t get to see the beauty that goes into it, and I wanted to share the beauty of the foaling process," said museum president John Hendrickson, who, along with his wife Marylou Whitney, owns Bird Town, one of the eight featured mares.
“Once La Verdad was asked, all I could do was smile and say ‘absolutely, my pleasure,’ ” thoroughbred owner and breeder Sheila Rosenblum said following Thursday’s press conference.
Owner of former Breeders' Cup winner La Verdad, who is now pregnant for the second time, Rosenblum shares in the belief that "Foal Patrol" can attract a younger generation of fans.
"This is the world; the kids love this stuff,” said Rosenblum, who is a former professional ballerina and model. “I am still a little bit more old-fashioned. I like paper and printing paper and reading books, but the screens are what everyone loves to do."
Having seen it for himself, Borisenok says he's living proof that witnessing the live birth of a baby horse will make a lifelong racing out of just about anybody.
"Someday you see him run on a track and be successful; it’s just a lot of fun knowing that it came from your farm," Borisenok said.
So far, three of the cameras have gone live, which can be viewed at www.foalpatrol.com.