Easy Writer - By Mandy Haskin

The following (Part 2)  was written by my daughter Mandy for the May 3 issue of Stride magazine (http://issuu.com/stridemagonline/docs/stride5), accompanied by photos. If you missed Part 1, you can read it at the above address (Pages 50-53) or on the "Hangin' With Haskin" blog archive.

I have been asked if I plan to stay involved in horse racing, and in what capacity. To answer that question, I must once again return to my past. For as long as I can remember, I have tried to find a way to keep racing in my life. As a teenager I wanted to be a trainer, until I realized how early in the morning I'd have to wake up. Then I wanted to be a bloodstock agent because it sounded cool. But I soon came to the realization that I understood more about quantum physics than I did about equine conformation. I eventually decided to become a veterinarian, majoring in pre-vet in college and spending my summers working at the New Jersey Equine Clinic under Scott Palmer and Patty Hogan. (Although I came after Smarty Jones, I was there for Afleet Alex's surgery). But after three school years of organic chemistry and systems physiology, and two summers spent covered in blood and holding castrated testicles, I knew that wasn't for me either. I rebelled against all things science-related by changing my major to English and Art History, and decided that I would make lots of money and become a horse owner. 

When it became clear that an English major was not going to make me rich, I resigned myself to just being a horse racing fan, and maybe a suave gambler, like some female Damon Runyon character. But just when I was about to start smoking cigars and learning the art of slapping a rolled up program into my hand, my father told me he was going to the Dubai World Cup and had found a writing assignment for me. Pat Cummings wanted me to write a piece for his website, DubaiRaceNight.com, chronicling my first trip to Dubai. I was ecstatic. Suddenly I was a serious journalist, traveling to the Middle East to report back on my cultural and glamorous experiences in a far-off land. In my head, I was Kipling. I wrote that article with all the enthusiasm and flowery metaphors I had in me, and actually received a lot of great feedback. People were saying that the apple didn't fall far from the tree and making jokes about my dad being a good "sire" -- that he was the next Storm Cat. I was honored and touched by all the compliments. But most importantly I knew I made my dad proud.

So the answer to that question is, of course, yes. But it took a while for me to realize I was destined to follow in my father's footsteps and actually write about horse racing. I guess life doesn't always show you the easy path. It's all those dead ends and roundabouts that allow you to recognize the right path when it appears before you. I know now that horse racing will remain in my life as long as I keep writing about it.   

37 Comments

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Steve Haskin

Well, as it turned out, Mandy DOES get up early (4:45 a.m.) and IS a trainer -- a personal trainer at Crunch in NYC. Her clients love her, but can't understand why she keeps feeling their ankles.

Mandy told me to thank everyone for their responses to the first part of her column. She really appreciates all the words of encouragement.

09 May 2010 8:27 PM
Susie

I'm delighted that Mandy wants to follow in her father's footsteps.  There can never be too many (good) racing writers.  Looking forward to future articles.

09 May 2010 9:04 PM
txhorsefan

Mandy, this is another excellent example of your talent and skills in writing and I'm grateful you are sharing them with those of us who follow your dad.  Since I first read something you wrote a while back, I can't even remember at this point - that's what happens at my age -  and started following your blog, I was looking forward to your report from Dubai as that sounded like such an exciting, thrilling trip for you.  The article did not disappoint, so it does appear that you are indeed well on your way into your writing career.  I'm so happy for you and your family!  I'm sure your mom and dad are delighted and so proud, as well they should be.  Now that the rest of the world (at least the blog readers of Bloodhorse), we'll be anxiously waiting for what you're going to write about next - just like we do with your dad!

09 May 2010 9:48 PM
Jim P

Mandy, your dad is my favorite writer desptie his handicapping. Still, nobody can describe the losing horse like Steve and nobody's better at telling you why the winning horse won than your dad. I think you're doing well following in his footsteps. Plus, all your life mis-steps will be useful in this career.  

Steve as your Storm Cat? Well, that's a bit of a stretch. Think of your dad as Stephen Got Even!! It's a parent's dream. But hey (or hay) Stephen lives at Lane's End and he's sired I Want Revenge and Stevie Wonderboy!!! You're on your way to an Eclipse Award lady!!Your dad should have a boatload of those!!!! He is, afterall, the best.

09 May 2010 9:54 PM
Tim G

Pops you must be really proud! The kid is a chip off the old block. But I'm sure her Mom kept her from getting your bad attributes (we all have them, don't we?) A Jill of all trades, her niche is definitely as a wordsmith.

09 May 2010 9:59 PM
Rachel

Looks like your parents produced a "true nick!" God bless!

10 May 2010 6:58 AM
Fran Loszynski

You have a great writing style Mandy! Glad you were there at Afleet Alex's surgery; I bet that's one of the reasons he did so well- a loving heart was everpresent. Look forward to reading your commentaries. Isn't horseracing great! Once you have the thunder of hoofs in your heart; you're hooked for life.

10 May 2010 7:46 AM
Slew

When you can weave a tapestry of words so well, we can see an image that celebrates not only the horse, but also a genetic brilliance.  Thank you Steve for adding another great writer to the world.  We are fortunate to be the beneficiaries of that talent.

10 May 2010 8:07 AM
moodygirl

Good for you Mandy! I can't think of a better thing to write about than horses. Look at all the knowledge of equines you aquired in your search for the right career. It's a very logical path when you think about it.

10 May 2010 8:35 AM
Dr Drunkinbum

It's obvious Mandy that you have talent and a nice writing style. Yes, write about horse racing but explore all avenues of writing. You might discover a style and direction you didn't even realize you would excel in. You have to take your own direction and have your own style but you couldn't have a better mentor than your father. Go back and read as much of his stuff as you can, and read screenplays, then try your hand at a fiction novel, a non fiction book and a screenplay just for fun to see what feels right. You might discover what is easiest for you and where your true talent lies.

10 May 2010 11:47 AM
Zookeeper

Mandy,

Even more precious than your writing talent, you also have inherited your Dad's quirky sense of humor and probably your Mother's also (since she had to have one to keep up with his zany ways).

I truly enjoyed reading about your meandering young dreams and ambitions to find your own "call to the keyboard".

I wish you all the success in the world and I hope to keep reading your observations on this fantastic sport. Hugs!

10 May 2010 11:56 AM
Karen in Texas

Sounds as though Mandy is a multi-talented young woman! You must be extremely proud, Steve!

10 May 2010 11:58 AM
Cgriff

Steve Haskin said:

Her clients love her, but can't understand why she keeps feeling their ankles.

THAT is some classic humor and imagery!  My LOL of the day!

10 May 2010 1:28 PM
Steve Haskin

Dr. D, ironically, her boyfriend is, among other things, a screenwriter and he writes TV pilots, and she proofreads them and brainstorms with him all the time. He has a lot of things in the works with some big names in the business; just waiting for that big break.

10 May 2010 2:31 PM
sentinel

The last name Haskin will open doors for Mandy but I'm sure her talent will keep them open.  I look forward to reading more of her work.

10 May 2010 2:44 PM
Windy City

And I know ".... that horse racing will remain in my life as long as I keep...." reading about it, from great writers like you and your dad :-)Thanks to the talented individuals like you, I find myself waiting for the new articles. Many times I keep coming back to bloodhorse.com for new article from Steve and sometimes waiting just drives me nuts (is he on vacation or what??) :-))I even printed his article about Rachel winning the Woodward and included in my baby son's "First Year" book .... sorry Steve - I hope I didn't validate any copyrights... I went down your road too, it started with love to math (I know, I know - but it runs in my family) but I didn't want to be a teacher. So I jumped to physical therapy (they had free camps at horse barns, unlimited riding!) But at the end, and after few injuries, I jumped back to math, with now having a degree in accounting :-)So as they say, life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you are gonna get! Seriously, thanks to the people like you, the casual fan can find out more about this wonderful creatures, the personal insight with the loving touch of affection helps us understand and love them even more. Great article Mandy, good luck to you and I hope your dad will post some of your articles here in the future. Best regards from Chicago

10 May 2010 2:58 PM
FSF

Read in conjunction with the crabby opinions about the "Get your Preak on" campaign, it occurs to me that a young, female writer with some fresh perspective can only be a benefit, provided she can reach out to an audience not currently hooked in to the (typically) older, (White) male journalist corps. No offense to the current "crop" of BH writers, of course. But, as a 30-something woman, I could trace my own childhood/adolescent love of racing through Mandy's stories (though mine was woven primarily through the NYRA circuit and some family lower-level runners in New Mexico), feeling much more connected than I typically do to the stories presented by other writers on this (and similar) sites.

Even though it was soooo "uncool" to be enamored with the sport during college, I've picked it back up in the past decade, and dozens of friends have had to "endure" it with me. Some of them have even become fans themselves. I like Mandy's idea of telling the story of racing through travel writing- seems like that could be a good idea.

10 May 2010 3:18 PM
Dr Drunkinbum

Steve

   Screenplays was the direction I decided to take after retiring from my regular job about a year ago. I had writing ideas piled up over the years but wasn't positive which direction to take. Unfortunately I've spent too much time on horse racing and have about 20 unfinished screenplay  projects. I need to get on the ball and off of the horse for awhile. Hopefully I'll be going for it soon, and focusing on one or two and finishing them.

10 May 2010 4:26 PM
steve from st louis

Mandy, some say the story of your life is already written; all that's left is for you to live it out. In your case, it's sure to include great aspirations, much discovery, constant introspection, a stern respect for the natural order and an undying passion for that which truly drives you.

I knew of your father 30 years ago when he ran the library stacks of the DRF library for Freddie Grossman in Hightstown, N.J. Humble beginnings sometimes lead to greatness. Can it happen twice in the same family? We'll see. And hope.  

10 May 2010 4:35 PM
Steve Haskin

Wow, some of these comments are so profound and thought-provoking; thank you all so much. Mandy will be commenting on them as soon as she gets out of work. Your encouragement is so appreciated.

Steve from St. Louis, shhh, I'm trying to keep those days hidden in some darkened corridor of my memory. But I have to admit, although my career was stagnant, going nowhere, they were fun days with lots of close friends at DRF, many of whom I'm still close to. Once I overcame the obstacle you mentioned, the flowers began to bloom on my career and I havent stopped smelling them since. They are as fragrant today as they were back in 1991 when I escaped from the library with the help of some of the other editors, gave up freelance writing for the Thoroughbred Times, and began writing regularly for DRF. Writing and covering the races still makes me feel like a kid all these years later.

10 May 2010 5:30 PM
Karen in Texas

Mandy's style reminds me of Nan Mooney's first person historical perspective in "My Racing Heart".(I believe you said you had hired Ms. Mooney as a writer years ago, Steve.) Her "memoir" into the world of thoroughbred racing is similar to your daughter's telling of her pathway to remain close to horses through journalism. The style is quite engaging I think.

10 May 2010 6:12 PM
Steve Haskin

I do see some similarities, Karen. Nan was extremely polished and had a great descriptive way of writing. I hired her to write a feature for the Kentucky Derby souvenir magazine, which I was editor of back then. Her subsequent book was excellent, but I haven't heard a word about her since.

10 May 2010 6:39 PM
Kevin A. Burke

TO: Mr. Steve Haskin,

I apologize for being off subject but please read Mr. Rob Whiteley's (Liberation Farm) article on the Paulick Report.

Blood Horse Magazine should join him is his proposal. It is important that all differences be put aside. Both change and preservation can come about but only if the media leaders of the Thoroughbred World give their assistance and help finding solutions.

A "Tea Party Like Movement" is gaining form, Blood Horse should be one of the leaders.

Thank You,

Kevin      

10 May 2010 6:41 PM
Shelby's Best Pal

I'm looking forward to reading more of Mandy's columns.

10 May 2010 7:23 PM
Tim G

Oh by the way Steve? I've seen Mandy. She definitely didn't get her good looks from you.(sorry bud)

Not to sound sexist but I'm sure any male clients she trains didn't mind her feeling their ankles. Now if she'd have picked up their feet and examined their frog? That might have been a little iffy.

Think she's a dancer too isn't she?

Also, did she take the photos? Those were pretty impressive as well. I read the 'Chronicles on Dubai' piece on the Dubai website, excellent.

10 May 2010 7:34 PM
Zookeeper

Karen in Texas,

"My Racing Heart" one of my very favorite books! Beautifully written! Your mentioning of it makes me want to dig it up out the piles accumulated around my house. I read it when I was fairly new to racing. I'll appreciate it even more today, as more knowledge about the subject always enhances the pleasure we get out of great books. Thank you for reminding me of it. I'll go find it right now and put it on top of the ones I'm planning to read next.

I'm an avid reader and like drug addicts, we who never want to be out of reading material, have a stash always waiting, so we don't go into withdrawals. You probably know what I'm talking about, don't you?

10 May 2010 7:44 PM
Karen in Texas

Zookeeper---I do indeed know what you are talking about! "My Racing Heart" was not only a good book, but an emotional reminder for those of us who have owned or been involved with horses and had to leave that world for a while. I could "feel" Nan Mooney's words as she reconnected while hearing "My Old Kentucky Home" in a Radio Shack in Manhattan, and I can "feel" Mandy's words as well.

10 May 2010 8:53 PM
Lou in Hangtown

I'm so glad that Mandy will be writing about horse-racing. Her writing touches me and, if it's about horse-racing, I'll have access to it.

10 May 2010 11:25 PM
Mandy Haskin

I just want to give a huge thanks to my dad for posting my article here, and to everyone for their kind, encouraging words of support. All your compliments have really touched me. I am delighted that the piece awoke so many memories in other people and I loved reading them.  This blog turned out to be the perfect place for everyone to share their stories. Stories like these are what this sport is all about. And if the rewarding process of telling mine wasn't already enough to make me want to keep writing, your encouraging comments certainly do!  As I continue to write (which I intend to do a lot of, in between feeling my clients' ankles), I continue to write for all of you. Very best wishes to everyone!

11 May 2010 11:32 AM
Zookeeper

Mandy,

Believe me, the pleasure was ALL ours. The best part of your comment of 11:32AM: "I continue to write for all of you". A promise of more superb writing to come... Here I go, drooling again! Where's my bib?

11 May 2010 12:27 PM
Karen2

Another Haskin to love..........I know Steve's articles in the blood horse and on these blogs before I even have to see his name on them. The writing style is so clear. You seem to have "it"!!! I am not a wordsmith so I can't explain what "it" is, but I know "it" when I see "it".

I am in the middle of reading "my racing heart" right now and I am LOVING it!!!

11 May 2010 4:15 PM
txhorsefan

Mandy, thank you for sharing your writing with us, allowing us to share our memories and comments and now for responding to our remarks.  Along with his talents, your dad has given you a strong dose of his generosity I think.  I completely agree with Zookeeper and Karen2, except I haven't gotten a copy of My Racing Heart yet.  I've finished my  current stash of books so I'm re-reading some of the many columns written by Steve Haskin that I've printed out over the years and I'm so happy now I can look forward to reading more Mandy Haskin.

11 May 2010 5:39 PM
sherpa

Mandy, you had me hooked at this:

“When you wake you shall have all the pretty horses. Blacks and bays, dapple grays…”

I had to re-read the first 3 paragraphs of your article after the tears dried up.

You have a very engaging style of writing.  Not surprising, considering your pedigree. Hope we hear a lot more from you here, but I expect your dad will let us know whenever you have an article published at Stride or elsewhere.

Thank you, Mandy's dad, for sharing this with your BH fans.

11 May 2010 9:24 PM
Laura P

A happy ending to Part I: It's terrific, Mandy, that you'll continue to write about a subject so close to home and close to your heart.  

It's nice to see the photos, too, of "all the pretty horses" in Stride Magazine, at the link your Dad posts.  And you may enjoy reading the award-winning novel of that name (part of a moving and beautifully-written trilogy) by one of America's best fiction writers, Cormac McCarthy.

12 May 2010 4:33 AM
Greg J.

Mandy,

      Beautifully written, Bravo :)

Mr. Haskin,

      You must be very proud!  On a side note, I hope you don't mind, But, Was thinking of Kip Deville and since you have kept us up with his progress, I was wondering if there is anything new about how he is doing? Thanks in advance...

14 May 2010 10:48 AM
Karen in Texas

Steve---Did Mandy ever meet Skip Away? If so, could the two of you maybe write a joint memoir of that occasion for those of us who believe he was among the all time great champions of racing? Thank you.

14 May 2010 12:35 PM
Karen in Texas

I just read your postscript to the Me and Julio article---that answers my above question regarding Skip Away and Mandy. Your memories of those occasions would be welcome reading. Thanks.

14 May 2010 7:19 PM

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