Tampa Bay Downs is proud to introduce its blog for the 2012-13 season, “Racing in the Sunshine.” By giving visitors an up-close and personal look at the majestic world of Thoroughbred racing, the sport’s participants – racing officials, horsemen, backstretch workers, trainers, jockeys and track employees – hope to entertain and inform fans everywhere.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Penelope Miller, America's Best Racing
insider’s opinions, observations and reflections about their favorite sport
Penelope Miller is thriving in the big city, but she’ll
always be a small-town horsewoman at heart. A resident of New
York City, the former Tampa Bay Downs Publicity Assistant and
Horseman’s Liaison is now the Senior Manager of Digital Media for America’s Best
Racing, a fan development platform begun by the Jockey Club. Miller was
promoted to her current post less than a year after being hired by the National
Thoroughbred Racing Association as its first Social Media Manager. With
mainstream media coverage of Thoroughbred racing on the decline and more and
more fans interacting through such platforms as Facebook and Twitter, the
outgoing, horse-savvy Miller was a natural choice to spearhead the NTRA and
Jockey Club’s modern media initiative. The America’s Best Racing program
features a fan-centric website (www.followhorseracing.com),
television coverage of major Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands prep
races, a redesigned social media presence (including a Pinterest page), online
and social games and more. “My job is to introduce as many people as possible
to the great sport of horse racing through our website and our various social
media channels,” said Miller, a graduate of GeorgetownUniversity.
Immersed in racing from her childhood, Miller believes younger people will
gravitate to horse racing when they learn about the excitement of a driving
photo finish, the pageantry of the post parade before a major stakes and the
wonder of a foal taking its first wobbly steps after birth. While the Triple
Crown watch is a major focus of her job, Miller is also introducing new fans to
the tradition and history of racing, the ins and outs of wagering and what to
wear to that Kentucky Derby party. Previously an assistant at the National
Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, a sales assistant for a Florida breeding
farm and a groom and exercise rider, Miller returns to Tampa Bay Downs at least
once a season. It’s a chance to renew friendships and take her pal Mouse the
Miniature Horse on a refreshing stroll through the Backyard Picnic Area. While
she is missed here, track officials know she is the type of representative needed
to help restore racing to its former luster.
HOMETOWN: Fairfield, Fla.
BEST HORSE I’VE EVER
SEEN: Oooh, tough one! Probably the best horse I’ve ever seen run in person
is the amazing Holy Bull. I was just a little girl, and he captivated me.
HOW I GOT STARTED IN
RACING: I was lucky enough to grow up on a Thoroughbred farm near Ocala, so you could say
that I drank the horse racing Kool-Aid pretty much from birth.
INSPIRATION AND INFLUENCE: My parents. They taught me to work hard, to
always try my best in everything I do, and to never lose my sense of humor.
ONE CHANGE I WOULD
MAKE TO RACING: I would like to see less negativity in the sport. There is
so much to love about horse racing, and so much potential in the next few years
to develop a whole new fan base. It would be great to see established racing
enthusiasts share their positive experiences in the game with new and potential
MY FAVORITE SPORTS
TEAM: My parents’ racing stable! If that doesn’t count, my favorite team is
definitely the Florida Gators. My neighbors in New York
pretty much have to wear earplugs during every Florida football game, since I have the
tendency to share encouragement and advice to the players on my TV at extreme
NO. 1 ON MY BUCKET
LIST OF THINGS TO DO: I’d love to go to the Dubai World Cup or the races in
Hong Kong. Either of those experiences would
SHOW/MOVIE: Community is my
favorite TV show and The Houseof Yes is my favorite movie. They are
both hysterically funny.
WHAT ELSE I’D BE
DOING IF. … I hate to even think about a life outside of racing! But I
guess I would probably have ended up in the horse-show world. Once these
animals get into your blood, you love them for life.
FAVORITE THING ABOUT TAMPA BAY DOWNS:
Everything! Tampa Bay Downs is my home track; I worked here from 2006 until I
began working for America’s
Best Racing, so I know that there is a lot to love. But if I had to pick one
thing, I would say this is the friendliest racetrack I’ve been to. Everyone
from the cleaning staff to the management greets visitors with a smile and
takes time out to talk to customers. It’s wonderful.
ADVICE TO SOMEONE
STARTING IN RACING: Have fun! This sport has something for everyone, from
young families to college students to retirees. Racing is a great way to spend
time outside, watch some amazing athletes and even leave with a little more
money than you came with. No matter what you’re interested in, you’ll find
something to love at the track. So kick back, relax and have yourself a good