“Horses and the jockeys who ride them are some of the most remarkable athletes I’ve encountered in my career,” says Andréa Bouchey Young, president and COO of Sam Houston Race Park in Houston.
Young, a lifelong sports fan, has seen some great athletes. Before joining Sam Houston, she was president and CEO of the WNBA’s Houston Comets, and before that was with the NBA’s Houston Rockets—not to mention her time as a sports writer for the Vanderbilt Hustler. While Young’s first love is basketball, she is now a dedicated horse person, overseeing one of the fastest growing horse-racing tracks in America.
At Sam Houston, thoroughbred and quarter-horse racing draws enthusiastic crowds, and live racing is supplemented by simulcasts from around the world. When the horses aren’t running, the park hosts concerts and special events. “We have diversified our business by hosting concerts and events like Cirque du Soleil,” says Young, “and we have created the largest purses in our history by reducing the number of dates that we run live horse racing.
“In the future our No. 1 priority is to expand our business into additional forms of gaming, like slot machines and casino-style entertainment,” she says, a proposition that brings unique challenges of working with the state legislature and the Texas Racing Commission.
“To be successful, racing must reposition itself for the ever-changing demand of customers,” says Young. “Our fans drive our business, and we focus on making our fans’ experience memorable.”
© 2014 Vanderbilt University | Photography: TOMMY LAVERGNE
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