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“This is your world. Shape it, or someone else will.” – Gary Lew
We are born with an innate desire to belong — to find a place in the universe in which our souls can mesh ever so peacefully with what brings us joy. Then, we search for others who share the same passions as we. It is not often that kismet draws together young individuals who share an interest, but on the rare occasion that it does, incredible things happen.
As many relationships are in this day and age, the story of Nexus Racing Club began with friendship initially founded on social media. Dare Sutton, Samantha Bussanich, and Sophie Shore are three young women, all under the age of 25, who possess a fiery passion that developed long before any of them knew one another.
For Dare, it all began in the Spring of 2007, with Rags to Riches and Curlin laying their hearts on the line, duking it out to the finish in the Belmont Stakes. For Samantha, it is the fond memory of a visit to Calder Racecourse when she was just 6 years old, with her Grandfather. For Sophie, it too, was a visit to the racetrack — one which she remembers these many years later as the day she walked away saying, “I want to be a part of this for the rest of my life.”
And so three little girls found their way to the world we all know as Horse Racing. As any true lovers of the sport have a way of never leaving it behind, they have only delved deeper into lives that revolve around Thoroughbred horses and the people who help to make them who and what they are — world-class athletes, both powerful and delicate, but above all, courageous and spirited.
It was not until the Fall of 2016 that all three young women met face to face for the very first time, at Keeneland Racecourse. As they found themselves standing in a crowded saddling paddock among people both older and younger, all grandfathered into the sport just the same, it was Dare who turned to her friends and said seven words that would change the course of the rest of their lives forever.
“Let’s own a horse with young people.”… and without a second thought, the immediate response from her friends was, “Okay, let’s do it.”
See, for those who were born into The Sport of Kings, Horse Racing is a way of life. Sunrises at the racetrack, are a way of life. Owning Thoroughbreds in general, is a way of life. But for people like Dare, Samantha, and Sophie, breaking into a sport as old as the one we so love, without any real family ties to the “Inside”, is a task insurmountable to many. Still, the idea of finding and bringing together people like themselves, who were interested in being racing’s next proverbial chapter, was worth pursuing.
While the original goal was to own a racehorse together, the three friends found it difficult to purchase a young horse, as they had originally hoped to. Instead, it was decided that Nexus Racing Club would partner with older, established owners.
With the help of Craig Bernick, who took the girls under his wing, Nexus Racing Club was able to strike up lease agreement partnerships with Glenn Hill Farm, LNJ Foxwoods, and StarLadies Racing on three different, well-bred fillies— 2yo’s Lake Geneva and Mo Buckets, and 3yo Firefoot. The latter recently provided Nexus, mere infants in the game of racing, its first victory.
So what’s next for the club which is sure to bring new life to a sport so largely dominated by families which have been around since the dawn of racing, itself? The three of them tell me, “We’d like to own a Kentucky-based horse.” It makes sense, as Kentucky serves as the capitol of the Horse Racing world.
But for Nexus Racing Club, the desire to own racehorses pales in comparison to the heart of the club’s mission — to make Horse Racing a sport for everyone. Let’s face it, we don’t have to be born into a racing legacy to have racing in our blood, and by the time Dare, Samantha, and Sophie – as much visionaries as they are millennials – are through, it is likely that young people from all walks of life, sharing the same passion, will carry on with the sport we all love, for as long as anyone races Thoroughbreds.