Amplify Horse Racing and Experience Saratoga


Helping the next generation find a place in the thoroughbred industry

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY – There was a time when Annise Montplaisir, horse crazy as a young teenager, was part of racing’s “next generation.”

Today, as a graduate of North Dakota State University and the Godolphin Flying Start program with a range of experience in the racing business, Montplaisir has joined the industry’s current generation. Along the way, she’s picked up something exceedingly valuable: a passion for using the lessons learned to help newcomers find their path in the industry as well.

That path is Amplify Horse Racing, the non-profit she and Madison Scott co-founded in 2019 that promotes education, mentorship and career opportunities for youth and young adults interested in joining the Thoroughbred industry.

Starting with its information-packed web site [amplifyhorseracing.org], Amplify merges the online and face-to-face by working with people, established organizations and educational initiatives across the industry to help people find fulfilling careers in the business. And during the next several weeks, Montplaisir will be in one of horse racing’s citadels, Saratoga, to help young people connect to programs and mentors in a variety of ways.

“One of the greatest struggles for most newcomers to the sport is finding information about the industry, said Montplaisir, who serves as Amplify’s president. “It’s pretty spread out. We have a lot of amazing educational and workforce training initiatives, but if you didn’t grow up in the industry, it can be difficult to figure out how to get started.”

That’s where Amplify steps in offering via all-day behind-the-scenes educational tours for teens and young adults, ages 15 to 25, at Saratoga Race Course on Wednesday, August 10; Friday, August 12; Wednesday, August 17; and Friday, August 19

Now in its third year, the “Experience Saratoga” tour program is “a peak behind the curtain,” as a 2021 Saratoga participant described it, a way to help young people interested in the business to learn about the typical day of a racehorse. Participants will speak with trainers as well as New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) professionals from the frontside to the backstretch, some of whom have careers or skills the typical fan might not know about. They’ll take in morning training, visit the Hall of Fame and attend races as well.

“What’s so great about being in Saratoga is that it’s such a magical place,” says Montplaisir. “You can’t leave Saratoga without feeling enamored by racing. We want to make sure people in the program get to see and talk with racing people at all levels. Sometimes, all it takes for a door to open is a conversation with the right person. That can happen at Saratoga.”

It did for Montplaisir, who traces her passion for horses to seeing the film, Ruffian, as a young teen. Growing up near Fargo, North Dakota, she took a volunteer position at the North Dakota Horse Park as the track’s ambassador, standing at the front gates with its mascot, a retired racehorse named Barracuda Boy.

From there, Montplaisir plunged into a little of everything at the horse park – “that’s the value of working as a small track,” she said – progressing from pony rider to galloping, assisting the director of media relations, working as the official clocker and even serving one summer as director of communications. “Whatever I wanted to get my hands on,” she said, “they threw me right in, and I learned.”

During two summer breaks from college, Montplaisir interned for the Saratoga Special newspaper and began making the connections that would build her career. After graduating from North Dakota State, where she double-majored in Management Communication and International Studies with a minor in Spanish, Montplaisir headed to Kentucky horse country. There, she interned with Fasig-Tipton, Keeneland, and Mill Ridge Farm before being accepted to the prestigious two-year Godolphin Flying Start program. Today, Montplaisir is back in Kentucky, based in Lexington as Education Coordinator for the Kentucky Equine Education Project.

Montplaisir considers herself fortunate to grow up near a track and to have made the kind of contacts to advance her career. She described Amplify as a resource or door opener for those without connections – “a more streamlined pathway to connect with programs and mentors.”

Past participants of the Saratoga tours agreed. “Amplify provided a first-class experience that was filled with educational moments from start to finish,” said Matthew Scull, who took a Saratoga tour in 2021. “There were peeks into the many different professions, and the unprecedented access facilitated the learning process tremendously. The tour shone a bright light on some of the greatest people, places and programs associated with the sport.”

For another 2021 Saratoga participant, Mary Rufo, “Amplify did a wonderful job with their tour program at Saratoga.”

“I’ve lived in the Saratoga area for nearly my entire life,” Rufo added. “These tours were a great way to get a more in-depth, behind-the-scenes look of how it all comes together for a day at the races.”

As part of this month’s program in Saratoga, Amplify is partnering with the Cornell Cooperative Extension service to offer tours to participants for their youth programs, including the Advanced Equine group and Animal Ambassadors. And from 10 am to 2 pm on Sunday, Aug. 21, Amplify will be represented at the Saratoga County Horse Farm Tour hosted by CCE Equine, an adult-education program in the Capital Region. The drive-it-yourself tour event will include a list of participating farms across Saratoga County.

Considering that Amplify is dedicated to inclusion and breaking down the barriers, Montplaisir finds a lot of irony is racing’s moniker as the “Sport of Kings.”

“In horse racing, you aren’t restricted to sitting in the stands as an observer, she said. “You can work hands-on with the athletes – raise them from birth, send them to be ‘recruited’ to a racing team, train to become a professional, and watch them strengthen and improve through each race. That’s because Thoroughbred racing is not just a sport of kings; it’s a sport for everyone!”

Learn more about Amplify Horse Racing at https://www.amplifyhorseracing.org/

NYRA Cares Press Release
Photo of Annise Montplaisir courtesy of NYRA. All other photos NYRA.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.