A few weeks and three years ago, I chose to take a leap of faith and agreed to partner with a guy I didn't know working in an industry that had about a half of one percent of my annual attention. The journey officially began three years ago yesterday. And it has been one of the best decisions I ever made.
I first met Ray Paulick in May of 2008 when a mutual friend suggested I might a good fit for a project Ray was working on. I was looking for work where I could make my own hours (I had just been named chairman of the Louisville GOP, a 40-hour-a-week volunteer job), something entrepreneurial, and preferably a subject matter that I could get excited about. This Paulick Report thing checked all those boxes.
Our initial and only investment gave me just enough faith to believe we would make it three months and so while I gave it my all, I'd be lying if I didn't admit to sending out a few resumes after accepting the position. “I mean, seriously, who actually cares about horse racing?” I asked myself. “And what's so special about this Paulick guy?” I was so young and stupid back then…
I was the most casual of casual horse racing fans. I checked in for the Kentucky Derby…usually. Rarely would I catch the Preakness and I was fascinated by the potential of a Triple Crown but otherwise ducked out of the Belmont altogether. If the NTRA number of 50 million fans is to be believed, one has to assume the vast majority of that number can relate better to my background than most who will read this article.
So I joined up with Ray largely out of a lack of other suitable options and figured this fit with my course of doing things I'd never considered doing before in my life. I just recently went from never as much as volunteering for a political campaign to becoming chairman of the largest county party in the state in less than two years. I'd give Ray everything I have and let the chips fall where they may.
There were many tough times. The checkbook was a very scary thing for the first year and a half. We worked infinite hours with no days off. My poor wife had to deal with constant interruption and be willing to sacrifice our time together. (Some would say less time with me is a blessing, but that's for another column)
But it didn't take long to realize what we might be able to create if we stuck it out. First came our readers. You all have kept us going through the hardest of times. You gave of your time, talent and some even their money in our early fundraiser days and annual Breeders' Cup or Bust charity drives. Don Reed, EUGENE LEVEY, Garrett Redmond, Hip 703, roger, Andrew A, Picksburg Phil, rwwupl, Saratoga Johnny, Rotund Haberdasher, Barry Schwartz, caroline, DrayNay, Panty Raid, Phar Lap, Tinky, ace, Bob Baffert, Barry Irwin, Steve Zorn, CanGamble, Bellwether, ITP, PTP, Noelle, G. Rarick, The_Knight_Sky, Alex Brown, Indulto and many more have added to the commentary over the years. We've had disagreements on more than a few occasions, but know that Ray and I are forever grateful for your dedication to this product we've worked so hard to produce.
Next come our advertisers, especially the early ones that believed our product would be one worth supporting. A special thanks goes to Brereton and Bret Jones of Airdrie Stud who represented the first stallion farm to step out and support a product produced by a guy that some felt was radioactive. Liberation Farm, North American Trainer Magazine and Team Valor were Thoroughbred businesses that understood our vision from almost day one.
But we've become a viable and accepted advertising option for the industry because of so many others: Adena Springs, Alex Brown Racing, AmWest Entertainment, Arizona Symposium, August Properties, Australian Racing, BetAmerica.com, Breeders' Cup, Brisnet.com, Brookdale Sales, Calder Race Course, California Racing, Coolmore, CTT, Darby Dan, Del Mar, Denali Stud, Derby Dreamer, Dish Network, Dogwood Stables, Dry Stone, Eaton Sales, eNicks, Equiforce, Equine Savings, ESI, Fasig-Tipton, Fleming Thoroughbred, Foaltrack, Fox Hill Farm, Gainesway, Gayle Van Leer, Gulfstream Park, Hill 'n' Dale Farm, Hollywood Park, Horsehats.com, Indiana Horse Racing, Jerry Jamgotchian, John Fulton Bloodstock, Jose Decamargo, KBC Horse Supplies, Keeneland, KEEP, Lane's End, Lost in the Fog Productions, M & M Thoroughbreds, Margaux Farm, MI Developments, Mike McMahon Bloodstock, Monmouth Park, Muirfield Insurance, NYRA, Oaklawn Park, Ocala Horse Properties, OCD Pellets, Overbrook Farm, Parting Glass Racing, Pin Oak Stud, Pony Highway Productions, Portland Meadows, Sasscer Hill, Spendthrift Farm, Jared Squires, Stevenson and Associates, Stonestreet Farm, Suffolk Downs, Tattersalls, Taylor Made Sales and Stallions, That's Racing LLC, Thoroughbred Power Ranking, Three Chimneys, Twinspires.com, TVG, Walmac Farm, West Point Throughbreds, WinStar Farm, Woodbine Entertainment and XpressBet.
If you've advertised with us and I didn't list your name above, then I've forgotten to bill you. Please send me an email.
This past year we've gone through a complete redesign. Some balked and resisted change, but our traffic has gone up 57% over the year before. We've been fortunate enough to make recent University of Louisville Equine Business School grad and former National Public Radio reporter Scott Jagow a full-time content manager and blessed to have Mary Forney join us for weekend editor duties and other assignments. And of course Ray's wife Carol continues to be a strong behind-the-scenes asset.
I'd also like to thank my wife Nikki for all the time she has given up over the years and her instant grasp of where the Paulick Report could go. Without her unwavering belief and support, I have no doubt there would not be a Paulick Report today.
But most of all, I want to thank that beautiful gray-haired Kevin Bacon look alike with the funny walk and quick wit we all know as Ray Paulick. I'm still a young man at 33 but I don't think partnerships like the one Ray and I have forged over the years happen every day. Can he be difficult at times? Sure. Have I had to say the same thing to him eight times before he remembers I said it once? More times than I can remember. But there is no harder working, insightful, and creative force in the Thoroughbred industry than Ray and it has been the experience of a lifetime to work side-by-side with him for these three years. My admiration for Ray is without bounds and if you saw half of what he does behind the scenes personally and professionally, you'd understand why I feel that way. We are all lucky to have his supremely dedicated voice in the racing industry.
So we'll continue to improve our product and make it more enjoyable for our readers. We'll continue to find value for our advertisers. I'll continue to make fun of how Ray walks. And we'll certainly continue to do what we can to make the Thoroughbred industry stronger going into the future.
Since Ray and I are not a 501 (c) 3 charity, we gave our sponsor Three Chimneys an opportunity to choose a charity this week and they have selected Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bluegrass.
The Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bluegrass exists to create and support programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and to strengthen families by keeping them together in times of medical need. In 2010, a group of Lexington-based young professionals, including several members of the Thoroughbred industry, started the Bluegrass Red Shoe Society, which allows individuals between the ages of 21 and 35 to support the mission of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bluegrass in unique and innovative ways.
If you live in Lexington and would like to know more about how you can get involved with the Ronald McDonald House or the Bluegrass Red Shoe Society, please contact Sarah Warner, Executive Director of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Bluegrass ([email protected]) or Margret Ridley, President of the Bluegrass Red Shoe Society ([email protected]) for more information.
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