Archive » January 13, 2011
By Pat Murphy, Contributing Writer
Twenty-two-year-old Molly McGill, had a lot of excitement last year. But it really started years ago, when she and her family would come to the Santa Ynez Valley to visit her aunt, Bo Derek. “I was horse crazy and I loved to ride her horses,” Molly tells me. “Later, my family moved here and I could take part in the gymkhanas at the SYV Equestrian Center. I loved it that people of all ages can take part. My horse, El Nino is Quarter-Horse Thoroughbred who just loves those gymkhana games. When he sees a barrel, he’s ready to go!”
Presently, Molly is a student at the University of Tampa in Florida, majoring in international business. Traveling with Bo definitely has sparked her interests in this field. As a member of the California Racing Board, Bo is connected with fascinating people in the horse world. One of their recent trips was to the Asian Racing Conference in Australia. This meeting brings together all countries in Asia and South Africa to discuss what needs improvement and how racing can be better promoted internationally.
“My aunt was invited to speak on animal welfare. She was concerned that the industry doesn’t do a better job in letting the public know how well treated these Thoroughbreds are. They even have spa treatments such as massages and water therapy. They are really treated like royalty!”
Among the persons attending the Asian Conference was Greg Avioli, who is the president of the Breeders’ Cup Association. Bo has close ties with this organization and has been hoping to bring The Breeders’ Cup here to California. One morning Molly had breakfast with Greg and his wife, Cheryl, and after hearing that Molly loved her job working for Apple Computers and also loved the horse racing industry, he suggested that she might combine the two.
Molly leaped at this suggestion and said, “The Breeders’ Cup really should have an app on the iPhone. You could really pioneer horse racing on the iPhone!” Greg’s eyes lit up at the idea and he asked her to put together a proposal. She immediately started working on it and also checked in with the Apple Corporation. They, too, liked the idea. The next thing she knew, she had received an invitation to intern with Peter Rotondo at the Breeders’ Cup New York office.
From last June to Oct. 11, Molly and Justin McDonald worked on writing and designing the entire app. “We got in touch with Equibase and got detailed information on racing. We sent mock-ups and information back and forth. We did interviews, got racing footage and learned how to edit movies. We were able to make it possible for people to actually watch the Breeders’ Cup races live on their iPhones. We wound up with over 49,000 down-loads and it was seen in 86 countries. We were rated No. 2 in downloads for all apps in the many sports categories. I was so excited because I knew this would benefit them, but I didn’t realize just how much!” Needless to say, there is a job waiting for her when she graduates from college.
Molly bubbles with enthusiasm as she tells me, “Going to the races with Bo is really fun. We are never in our seats, we go out to the paddocks, then we walk out with the horses then we go out to the winner circle to watch the races. We just go to the club house to place our bets and grab some food.
“We have gotten acquainted with the Mosses, owners of the famous racehorse Zenyatta. They are extremely nice and would invite Bo and me to be in photos with them and stand in the winner’s circle at Hollywood Park. At the Breeders’ Cup race in Kentucky, the crowd was just screaming and screaming – and then when she didn’t win there was just silence. Poor Blame and Garrett Gomez, his jockey, were left standing in the winner’s circle with very little cheering for them. After coming out of the gate with all the dirt flying in her face, it took her a bit longer to weave around the horses in front of her. She wasn’t used to the dirt track. But she still ran a spectacular race and she just missed winning by inches.”
The Eclipe Awards are Jan. 17 in Miami, and Bo and Molly will be there to see who is awarded Horse of the Year. The voting is based on different things and Zenyatta definitely wins in the “horse that has done the most for horse racing” category and after all, she did win The Breeders’ Cup 2009 year. Stay tuned and cheer for Zenyatta!