Meet Chris Eldridge

What attracted you to the horseracing industry?

My initial experience with horse racing was about three years ago when I was a speaker at a conference held at Churchill Downs. I was there very early in the morning getting prepared, and American Pharoah was doing his morning workout. I didn’t think anything of it at the time because I didn’t know anything about horse racing. I just knew that was the “horse from TV”, but we all know what happened a few weeks later when he won the Triple Crown. So, it was amazing for me to know that I saw American Pharoah at Churchill Downs only a few weeks prior to his win. Since then, I’ve enjoyed learning about the sport and experiencing the thrill of racing, whether as an owner or spectator. It’s entertaining to watch the horses race.

What aspect of horse racing do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy learning how the handicappers choose the horses they think are most likely to win, but I also enjoy learning about the entire industry. I think a lot of people have limited knowledge about horse racing. They may watch a few of the bigger races on TV every year, but they don’t necessarily know the ins and outs, especially my generation. We didn’t grow up when horse racing was more active and considered entertainment, especially here in New England where we don’t have a lot of tracks. So, I’m learning a lot about horse racing, and I’m hoping to see a turnaround where the sport becomes a much bigger event.

There’s so much for me to learn, and I seem to learn something new with every single horse that Wasabi Ventures Stables invests in, as well as how some of the other Co-Owner Club members make their picks. Even though I’m standing on the outside, so to speak, I’m able to absorb so much information. This is exciting now that I’m able to make my own best guesses of which horses are going to win, and which horses may fare better under different conditions.

Are there any issues in the industry that you’d like to see addressed?

From an outsider’s perspective, there are people out there that don’t even know that horse racing really exists. There’s so much action every single day. There are people who might think that horse racing only happens once a month, or a couple of times a year, because of the big races that they see on TV, such as the Preakness and Kentucky Derby. They have no idea that within a 3-hour flight south from Boston and New Hampshire you can watch a race at Laurel Park in Maryland Tuesday through Sunday. There’s horse racing happening all the time. And it really is more than watching a horse go around the track. It’s the claiming process that goes along with it. There is a lot of excitement if you get involved.

So, the horse racing industry needs to find a way to engage the younger crowd to keep it alive. Whereas the older crowd has been involved with racing for a long time as a pastime, among the younger crowd the sport is starting to die off. For example, Suffolk Downs in Boston has only one more season of racing, because it’s not as popular here.

What do you think the industry should do to engage the younger crowd?

It’s kind of difficult because it’s almost the same way that I think about NASCAR racing. It was extremely popular back in the mid-2000s. Back then it cost $200 a ticket to go to a race, but now you can go to a race for $25 because it’s lost that grip of interest. They need to figure out a way to get everyone more involved.

Wasabi Ventures Stables provides an opportunity for anyone with almost any budget to be able to become a racehorse owner, so you have a feeling of responsibility that you are a part of the industry, that you’re not just going to watch a race. Whether you have ½%, 1%, 5%, etc. of a horse, you are a part of that industry. Ownership gives you the opportunity to experience more than just watching a 50-second or 2-minute race on the sidelines. It’s exciting.

Besides the fact that the Wasabi Ventures Stables Co-Owner Club gives more people the opportunity to be racehorse owners, what else attracted you to the club?

I’ve known the founder, TK Kuegler, for a while and I knew he was very passionate about horse racing. Outside of the horseracing industry, TK educates young professionals and people who are brand new to any industry. So, I wanted to join the club because TK’s mission with Wasabi Ventures Stables is to not only have everyone enjoy the thrill of racing, but also to educate them.

I always take the opportunity to learn as much as I can. If you came to me a year ago and asked me if I knew anything about the horseracing industry, I would have had no idea. Now I can say that out of my group of close friends I am the person that people will ask, “Hey, which horse do you think is most likely to win this race, and why?” Even with my limited knowledge, I’m able to give them the educational reasoning behind why I’m favoring or investing in certain horses.

Knowing that TK was bringing that educational component to Wasabi Ventures Stables, made me realize it was something special. Even from my outsider’s perspective and short time in the industry, I can clearly tell from interacting with all the club members that Wasabi Ventures Stables has built a community that is different from any other syndicate or horseracing stable group out there. It’s truly unique.

Do you have a favorite horse?

I’ve owned four horses now, and I think my favorite is To Honor and Love. She was the first horse Wasabi Ventures Stables invested in. Out of the first three races that she ran, To Honor and Love won first, second, and third place. To be in it for the long haul, to know that we were taking care of the horses, and to see To Honor and Love hit the podium all three times was my first win. That’s why “THOL” is definitely my favorite horse so far, but she won’t be my last.

It’s amazing to see the progress that Wasabi Ventures Stables has made in such a short time period. Especially with all the new owners and stables coming in, for us to pull off the statistics that we have so far, we’re doing something right.

Are there any horses outside of Wasabi Ventures Stables whose careers you follow?

No, but every so often I see horses that have unique names and I want to follow them to see the outcomes of their races. It is very neat, though, to watch races and see a lot of the same horses come back in action every week or so. It’s not like I see a horse once and that’s the last time I’m going to see it. Of course, I know of the big names such as Gun Runner and Cloud Computing, but it’s also fun to see the lesser known horses who don’t get the press.