Hello Race Fans

Launched March 2010

Role
  • Co-founder
  • Content
  • Design
  • Editorial
Platform
  • Wordpress

When friend and fellow horseplayer Adam Wiener and I started this project in 2008 there was not an easy way to learn about Thoroughbred horse racing online. Most people learn how to play the ponies from a family member, and while there's no shortage of books, most of them assume your goal is to become a professional horseplayer.

After a couple of trips to the track together we both went a little mad for horse racing and wanted to learn more about it. Search engines didn't produce anything too useful so we started the reading the classics. After endless (fun!) discussions trying to apply what we were learning, we decided to create the resource we wished was available. I've seen no shortage of Twitter commentary encouraging beginners to write and teach, at least with regard to coding, and based on my experience with this project I'd say it could be true for anything (and I encourage you to do it!).

By the time we decided to go for it we'd met plenty of people blogging about racing or chatting about it on Twitter (back when Twitter was new and fun). This experience helped to establish our premise that fans and players can learn as much from each other as they can from experts. We had an idea of what we wanted to do in terms of site structure and editorial approach and the group of contributors we put together helped turn those ideas into a reality.

My role was everything on the creative and implementation side from concept to execution. This included design, dev (don't look at the code, unless you'd like to get a good idea of my pre-leveling-up period hackish CSS chops), editorial (both as an editor and writer) and general Wordpress admin and upkeep. Basically I'm everything from Creative and Editorial Director to staff writer and production assistant.

While we're not publishing any new content at the moment, this site represents over a decade of my prime Side-Project Energy. In some ways I wish I had dedicated less time to it (and more time to keeping my front-end skills up), but many of the things I learned are applicable elsewhere, something I may talk more about now that I have a place to unleash blather. If nothing else there's a sense of accomplishment keeping such a big project going for so long.

I've added two features from this site to the project section, Paths to the Kentucky Derby Since 1990 and Stakes Profiles. One was one of the most successful features of the site and the other was not successful in the way I had hoped, but proved interesting and useful anyway. There were plenty of lessons learned along the way, and the joy of a good side project is the space to fumble around and figure things out.

Fun fumbling aside, one of the most fun things about this project was that being a newbie and wanting to know as much as possible about everything was a real benefit in terms of generating ideas. Especially considering that the racing industry only had a interest in doing what they were already doing, and had no idea how create content for people who weren't longtime horseplayers or people in the breeding industry (sadly this is still pretty true today except that they've figured out how to create content for people who want to go to the track to get drunk and take selfies).

Since this is such a massive project that spanned over a decade I want to come back and document it properly, if for no other reason than to have a record of it.

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