Hi, my name is Ciara Austin, and I'm so excited to be joining the America's Best Racing team as a Brand Ambassador. I was born and spent most of my younger years outside of Philadelphia in a small town called Devon, Pa., which is known for being the home of the Devon Horse Show, the oldest and largest multi-breed horse competition in the United States.
In 1998, my mother and I relocated to upstate New York, just south of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., so I have always gravitated to residing in horse towns.
Growing up, I spent most of my summers on Lake George and the Adirondack Mountains camping and hiking or acting and singing in community musicals and plays. It wasn't until I became an undergraduate at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs that I really began to learn about horse racing.
Since college was never in session during the Saratoga racing season, I made the decision one August during college to take myself to the track. It was definitely different than the equestrian nature that I was used to at the Devon Horse Show, but I quickly became intrigued with the overall atmosphere and sport of horse racing.
Saratoga Springs is known for its motto of "Health, History and Horses," and I couldn't agree more.
Upon receiving my bachelor’s degree in theatre from Skidmore College in 2008, I decided to stay in Saratoga. I began working at my Alma Mater in the fundraising and alumni development department. I became a dedicated member of the community not just during track season but year round. Over time, I developed the nickname "Ciaratoga" around town, which encompasses my social nature and all things Saratoga.
In 2013, I began a blog titled Ciaratoga, which focuses on the social scene of Saratoga through my eyes, along with a horse-racing component. For me, Ciaratoga started as a creative outlet and also a way for me to give back to my community by sharing what was happening around town and my interest in the horse-racing world. The blog drove me to look at my goals and what I wanted to do professionally, and I decided to branch off and begin doing social-media marketing and small-event consulting.
MY MOTHER AND I, OPENING DAY AT SARATOGA, 2013
I was delighted to receive an invitation from the 2013 ABRV Tour for a day at the races in Saratoga this past summer. I had never heard of America's Best Racing and, after I did some initial research and learned about the company's mission with The Jockey Club, there was no hesitation to "get in the game."
I found it so refreshing to spend the afternoon with a group of young professionals who were not only driven, but dedicated to “The Sport of Kings”. I thought to myself, wow! This is exactly the type of job I would love to have.
GUEST MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, 2013 TRAVERS STAKES
Following ABRV’s tour in Saratoga, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime and was asked by America's Best Racing to be a guest media correspondent for the 2013 Breeders Cup World Championships at Santa Anita Racetrack in Arcadia, Calif. It was by far the best two days in sports and provided me such a fantastic chance to see the industry close up and behind the scenes. It also further solidified for me that this was the arena in which I wanted to build a long-lasting career.
I truly believe that horse racing has a little bit of something for everyone. From fashion and lifestyle, to the purse athleticism of both horse and rider, to the overall social nature … there is excitement at every turn at the racetrack.
Many people dream about finding a way to blend their personal and professional interests in their career, and I'm lucky that I am now able to do so by spreading awareness of the sport to a younger demographic along with my fellow Brand Ambassadors.
See you at the races!
MIKE SMITH (MY FAVORITE JOCKEY) AND I AT 2013 BREEDERS CUP