Blog Spotlight: Jan Vasquez and Racing PROud!

We recently reached out to Jan Vasquez, co-founder of Racing PROud and winner of Pup #2 from the NGA Fall Meet Pup Giveaway. The following is the exchange we had with Jan on the Pup Giveaway, her life, and the greyhound racing industry.

What prompted you to participate in the giveaway? 

I’ve been a full member of the National Greyhound Association (NGA) since 2012 when I purchased and registered my first two greyhound racers. Every October at the NGA Fall Nationals, one of the events is called the Pup Giveaway, a raffle which takes place during the Wednesday evening banquet. Three generous breeders each donate a pup (generally younger dogs not quite track-ready) for the Giveaway. The NGA inserts raffle tickets in their magazine, “The Greyhound Review”, and also sends each NGA member two books of tickets in the mail. Tickets are also sold the night of the banquet. While not all members send in their tickets, I have always done so, along with a donation check. This year I was incredibly lucky enough to have had my name drawn as a winner of the second dog. It was a shock, and my memory is a blur but I recall everyone at my table hooting and cheering!

03-fall-meet-2016
In this picture: Lesley Ezkovich, Bob Crossland, and Jan Vasquez at the 2016 Fall Nationals banquet, which honored the Blanchard family.

Did you always want a racer?

No, I never much thought about it until 2012. I adopted my first greyhound, Minnie, in November of 2003. Prior to Minnie I had always had small dogs, particularly miniature poodles. Although a native of Buffalo, NY, I attended college in Arizona and lived there for approximately 15 years until 1990 – mostly in Tucson, but a few years in Yuma. Both cities had greyhound race tracks and my husband and I frequently attended races as a form of entertainment. I loved watching the dogs and admired those in the holding area waiting for their races. It never occurred to me that I might one day adopt one of those dogs, let alone OWN a racer. Fast forward to 2003 after we had moved back to Buffalo. Our beloved poodles had passed away a few years earlier and I often longed for another dog. On many occasions, I had seen greyhounds with their adoption groups at local malls, and I would always stop to pet and admire them. Even then it didn’t cross my mind to look into.

06-fall-meet-2014
Jan Vasquez presenting Jim Blanchard with a check to the Florida Greyhound Association at the 2014 Fall Meet.

Fast forward to 2003, after we had moved back to Buffalo. Our beloved poodles had passed away a few years earlier and I often longed for another dog. On many occasions I had seen greyhounds with their adoption groups at local malls, and I would always stop to pet and admire them. Even then it didn’t cross my mind to look into adoption, until one day in October 2003 while Christmas shopping with my daughter, my sister, and two nieces. We were at a mall and there were greyhounds there. Naturally, I went to pet them, but this time I started asking questions. I left with an application and a sense of excitement. When I got home, I showed my husband the application and reiterated the information I had been given. He looked at the application, looked and me and said …. “NO.” I knew better than to make an issue of it so I didn’t press, but I was quite disappointed. Imagine my surprise and delight when the next morning my husband said to me … “Why don’t we look into it?” Within a month, we had our first greyhound pet, Minnie. She was a tiny, black girl who was exceptionally shy, and frankly it took a few months to warm up to her because she was so aloof, but she eventually stole my heart and she was the reason for my now obsession with all things greyhound.

05-tallahassee-2015
Pictured from left to right: Crystal Marie Carroll, Jim Blanchard, Florida legislator Kevin Rader, Sarah Elizabeth Kettlewell, and B’s Graciebswift in her own Racing PROud dress. Jan said this was from “2015 when a large delegation of racing professionals went to Tallahassee to speak with legislators about greyhound racing.”

I became involved with the adoption group from which Minnie came, helping with meet and greets and home visits. The more I spent time with these activities, the more it became apparent that they were extremely against greyhound racing and made every effort to tell people how badly the dogs were treated, and how lucky they were to escape to rescue homes. I couldn’t bring myself to swallow these ideas, having attended races in Arizona and remembering happy, healthy looking dogs. So I stuck to telling people what awesome pets they were. I joined an internet forum called GreyTalk and was addicted within days. Everything one could possibly discuss about greyhounds could be found there – except information about racing. My curiosity got the best of me, however, so I began to research the racing industry outside of GreyTalk. To my dismay, everything I looked up on the internet pointed to cruel and inhumane treatment of racing greyhounds. Against my better judgment, I joined an internet sensation at the time called Facebook.

Finally, I was able to find and join a rather obscure Facebook group called Grey2K Lies. Here were actual people who owned, bred, and trained greyhounds. As I became more comfortable with what they were saying, I began “friending” several and following their postings. None of what I saw or read jived with what my adoption group was promoting. So I followed the advice of my newfound friends: come and see for yourself. So I did. I recruited my daughter as a traveling companion and we made the trip to Abilene, Kansas in May of 2012 with the express purpose of visiting greyhound farms. I contacted two Facebook friends who were working on farms at the time and arranged for visits to their respective places of employment. I was in love, I was hooked, and the seed had been planted. By October of 2012, I was arranging the purchase of my first two racers from Bob Crossland.

07-baby-mario
In August of 2014, Lesley Ezkovich and Jan Vasquez purchased a beautiful male puppy from Bob Crossland and officially registered him as Racing Proud, aka Mario. Jan said that they “had high hopes for him, but unfortunately, after a few starts, it was clear he would not be competetive and he was retired. Lesley also runs a very successful pro-racing group called It’s A Grey Area Greyhound Adoption. She placed Mario in a wonderful home and he is very much loved.” This picture is of Mario as a puppy.

Do you already have racers? 

The short answer is Yes. The longer version is that those first two racers were co-owned with Bob, as I didn’t have a clue about how it all worked. Thankfully, he was patient and helpful in getting the dogs raised, trained, and sent to a track in Florida. Unfortunately, these two turned out to be the worse racers in an otherwise impressive litter. One never even made it to official schooling. She just wasn’t all that interested. The other managed to hang on for several months, finally going to a low-level track where she ran about a dozen races, mostly coming in 7th or 8th. She managed one 2nd place, for which I received a purse check for $9.78. I was so proud of that check! But, she clearly was also not cut out to be a star and both of these girls are now living the life of luxury in their adoptive homes. I might mention that I could have brought both of them home, as their owner. However, I felt that my home and lifestyle were not conducive to a two-year-old active greyhound. I don’t have a place for a young dog to run regularly for maximum exercise, and my own lifestyle consisted of working full time and coming home to relax. On the other hand, my current senior retirees are a perfect fit.

08-racing-mario
Racing Proud, aka Mario, before one of his races.

After the first two racers, I’ve partnered with others to own five more racers. One was acquired half way through her racing career and she did very well. It was a breakeven situation. Two others were racing washouts and are now in adoptive homes. I have one boy, co-owned with a gentleman in Arizona, who is doing very well – Darx  Ida da Moon, aka Floyd. He is currently racing in Jacksonville, Florida, and we hope he will continue to do well. We also co-own a female out of the same dam. She is currently at a finishing farm in Abilene, KS and hopefully will be traveling in a few months to a track to get her career started.

09-retired-mario
Racing Proud, aka Mario, in retired life as a beloved pet.

What is your plan for the greyhound you won? Where is the greyhound now? Training or on their way to the track? 

The greyhound I won at the Fall Meet was an incredible and unexpected stroke of good
fortune. I met the gentleman who donated her, David Petzold, and we had several conversations during the meet. This dog, a female, is already 18 months old and has been fully trained/finished and is ready to head to a track. She had already been registered under the name P’s Betsy, and is currently at Mr. Petzold’s farm in Oklahoma. While at the meet, we transferred ownership and I have the gold sheet naming myself as her racing owner. As of now, the plan is for her to be on a hauler to Florida at the end of the month (October). I have arranged for a kennel to take her and she will start out at Sanford Orlando Kennel Club. This will be my first solo-owned racer and I hope she will have a long, successful career.

Is there anything you would like us to include regarding Racing PROud or your involvement in greyhound adoption?  

04-rp-collars
Racing PROud embroidered collars made by Kathy Ford. Jan mentioned that their “good friend, Bec Maier of GreytGlass (www.greytglass.com/DC.html) makes all the [other] Racing PROud apparel and decals for us. We get a portion of each item sold for our Racing PROud kitty. Bec traveled from Indiana for the last two Fall Meets to set up a booth to sell Racing PROud merchandise.”
Because the local group from which I adopted my first two greyhounds is an extreme anti-racing group, I have stopped all volunteer activities with them. These are not bad people, just woefully uninformed and set in their ways. I am cordial if I happen to see them, but I do not associate with group events any longer. I do not have official affiliation with any other group at this time, but keep up with and support many adoption groups I’ve come to know through social media.

02-rp-booth-fall-2016
Racing PROud booth at the 2016 Fall Nationals. In this picture from left to right: Bec Maier, Lesley Ezkovich, and Jan Vasquez.

I was the person who originally coined the phrase “Racing PROud” back in 2013. I wrote an article for The Greyhound Review, which gives all the details. Since its inception, we’ve sponsored a major stake race at every NGA Spring and Fall Meet, and have expanded our fundraising to include donations to both the Florida and West Virginia Greyhound Associations to help with lobbying efforts to keep racing alive. To date, Racing PROud has raised over $50,000 in this effort.

Racing PROud has become a popular mantra for racing professionals and adopters alike. Co-founder Lesley Ezkovich and I couldn’t be happier to see so many support greyhound racing.

 

To view Jan Vasquez’s article on Racing PROud for The Greyhound Review in 2014, click here. We would like to give a big thank you to Jan for providing us with greyt details of greyhound racing and how the industry has affected her life. We look forward to seeing her pup race on the track!

One of our main goals is to promote the greyhound industry. Do you work in the greyhound racing industry or know someone who does? Would you be interested in being featured in our blog or podcast? Contact us at custserv@greyhoundchannel.com.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s