Kids to the Cup was beautiful in it’s simplicity. As Jay Hovdey of the Daily Racing Form wrote “The KTTC concept was so simple, so pure, that it was almost a given that racing should pursue such goals. It has been proven time and again, if you grow a racing fan early, you’ve got them for life.”
These “lifers” as Hovdey alludes to are now full established within the racing industry from jockeys to bloodstock agents to Vice Presidents. It is these “lifers” that remember those years as eager eyed youngsters peering over the outside rail oohing and awing over Free House and Silver Charm. Those same youngsters that toddled after John DeSantis and Chris McCarron like ducklings are now in a position to pay it forward to the next generation of fans.
Kids to the Cup came about when owner Trudy McCaffery received a letter from a young fan of Free House. The young fan, Tom Jackson, was the seed of an idea that bloomed into the organization under McCaffery. In support of the young fan, McCaffery flew Tom to the Santa Anita Handicap and from there KTTC was born. Subsequent years saw groups of youngsters traveling to the top races in the country: Breeders’ Cup, the Triple Crown, Santa Anita Derby. Ambitious members even started their own Kids to the Cup trips to their local racetracks for the big races: Longacres Mile at Emerald Downs, Suffolk Handicap at Suffolk Downs and more.
The impact on these racing fans could not be more apparent as they grew older and sought out paths of education that would lead them to careers in the horse racing industry. The University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program and the University of Louisville both saw young adults that had friendships and connections made through KTTC. Chris McCarron’s Jockey School turned out professional jockeys that had big dreams.
The network of young professionals entering the racing industry did not go unnoticed, however, in 2006, Trudy McCaffery had to step back due to an illness and in 2007 passed away from inoperable lung cancer.
KTTC was gone but not forgotten. Especially by the young people that Trudy had touched and inspired. Now, nearly a decade later, those young racing fans are in a position to pay it forward and Kids to the Cup is being resurrected by alumni in a grassroots effort.
Kids to the Cup hopes that once again, the racing industry will step forward to help develop the young talent waiting in the wings ready to knock the door down.