Meet Amanda Lee, a graduate from Brigham Young University with a deep passion for the racing industry.
Living in Utah, with no nearby tracks and far from any major races, Amanda had to develop her love of racing completely on her own. She always loved horses as a kid and would race to see whatever horse movies came out in theaters. Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story is where she would place the blame for catching the racing bug. She was just 9 years old at the time and from there, her racing interest piqued.
She remembers standing in line at a gas station on vacation with her family, peering at the newspapers that proudly proclaimed Barbaro as the 2006 Kentucky Derby Winner. She vowed to learn more about Barbaro and to not let the next Kentucky Derby pass without watching it. In 2007, she parked herself in front of the living room TV and watched the Kentucky Derby coverage for hours. She had a piece of paper, which she still has to this day, where she wrote down the winners of the undercard races and jotted down each Kentucky Derby contender as they pranced by in the post parade. She was enthralled. But yet, it still felt so far away, like something she would always have to settle for only seeing on TV. Sadly, she had to accept that that was enough.
Later that same year, she threw her whole heart into the late Barbaro, reading books on him, looking up articles, winning contests at school with essays she wrote about his story. Barbaro was her first racing love. The years after that she would tune in to the Kentucky Derby, but due to her distance and lack of exposure to many things horse racing, her attention ebbed and flowed.
It was Zenyatta who sucked her back in again, and she followed her career and had her heart properly broken in the 2010 Breeder’s Cup Classic. From that point on, she paid more attention on social media, tuned in to all the Triple Crown and Breeder’s Cup races, and tried to learn as much as she could even with the distance.
As Amanda does not live anywhere near a track, she felt as if she was in a horse racing desert, cheering her favorites from afar and wishing there was something closer that she could be a part of.
Amanda was thrilled to watch American Pharoah win every jewel of the Triple Crown, and even roped her family into watching the races on TV with me. She will never forget the 2015 Belmont Stakes. She begged her family to wait a few more minutes at a restaurant for the horses to load into the gate, and there they watched history be made. They all got to enjoy the victory with her, as she tried her best to explain to them how historic the day was. She will never forget the way the restaurant erupted in cheers.
From there, it was not until Amanda re-connected with an old friend in 2018 that she threw herself back into the sport with more fervor and started learning everything she could about the sport. That new-found fervor led her to the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita in 2019, where she fulfilled her childhood dream of watching live racing. Now not a day goes by where Amanda is not immersed in racing some way, even if it’s only virtually.
A major part of Amanda getting attached to the industry has been her paintings. Amanda has started a hobby of watercolor horse portraits it has helped her connect with others in the sport. She has painted for a handful of well-known owners and trainers in the industry. From that, it has helped her make friends and connections she may have never been able to make otherwise.
During March 2020 she painted her favorite horse, Covfefe, and since then she has painted over 40 horse portraits and counting. Amanda believes it is an amazing way for someone like her who did not grow up in the industry to create her own little niche.
After Amanda earned her degree, she completed a 2-year Physical Therapist Assistant program. She has now been working as a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant since January. Her favorite part about her job is helping people heal from injury.
Amanda thinks that the most important change for the industry is the safety of the sport. Although huge steps have been made in researching injury prevention, medications, and veterinary examinations to catch issues before they arise, she believes that more development in this area would benefit the sport immensely. Though her college study was in exercise science for humans, there are some concepts in sport training that she wishes would be more widely applied to horse training (mainly variety in workouts, different frequencies, longer distances, etc.)
Amanda thinks it could be fascinating to see what effects that would have on a racehorse.
When introducing a new fan to the sport of horse racing, Amanda would take them to the backside to meet the horses. Although Amanda has never had the opportunity to meet a racehorse personally, she has fallen in love with individual horses and their stories. She believes that is where the true magic of the sport lies and that once you connect with a horse, watching the races becomes all the more thrilling and engaging.
Amanda enjoys being a part of Nexus because, although she lives too far away to participate in most in person events, she sincerely enjoys having horses that she can follow closely and receive updates about! It makes her feel even more connected to the sport--even from far away.