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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

#KyDerbyKids Twitter Initiative Expands into 2-Year-Olds

Chance Moquett (son of 2016 Derby trainer Ron Moquett) and Bailey Romans (daughter of 2016 Derby trainer Dale Romans) on WHAS-11 last Kentucky Oaks Day with prominent Louisville radio and TV personality Tony Vanetti. (Photo by Jennie Rees)
#KyDerbyKids - the acclaimed social-media initiative where the sons and daughters of trainers in the 2016 Kentucky Derby tweeted about their experiences — is expanding to include kids connected to 2-year-old horses.

Dubbed #KyDerbyKids 2.0, the program has its own Twitter handle of @KyDerbyKids and is designed to broaden the reach and allow more young voices to be heard. #KyDerbyKids is sponsored by the Kentucky division of the Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association and is overseen by veteran turf journalist Jennie Rees.

The target group for #KyDerbyKids participants is anyone under 30 who is involved with or has access to 2-year-old racehorses and who would like to share their thoughts, dreams and adventures in horse racing. The idea to expand #KyDerbyKids came from trainer and Kentucky HBPA board member John Hancock, whose 9-year-old grandson Matt Hillyard is rooted in the stable known for its 2-year-olds.

“We thought KyDerbyKids would be a home run, but it outdid even our optimistic expectations,” said Kentucky HBPA executive director Marty Maline. “Now we have a way to keep it going, with more young people communicating the joy of being around the races and racehorses. The sport keeps talking about the need to reach a younger demographic. What better way than to have the younger generation share their experiences in words and pictures while also giving existing fans an ultimate insider’s view of racing stables?”

#KyDerbyKids 2.0 is being launched to coincide with the July 2 start of the Ellis Park summer meet, whose 2-year-old races have produced a slew of graded stakes-winners, including recent Ohio Derby winner Mo Tom. However, the larger objective is to have kids introducing the public 140 characters at a time to young horses competing all over the country. It’s anticipated that some will make it to the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita Nov. 4-5, 2016, in either the $2 million Sentient Jet Breeders’ Cup Juvenile or the $2 million 14 Hands Winery Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, as well as the 2017 Longines Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands next May 5-6 at Churchill Downs.

“Two-year-olds are a heart throb for current race fans, and everybody loves Derby horses,” Chance Moquett, the 23-year-old son of trainer Ron Moquett and a charter #KyDerbyKid. “But for me this is about more than that. This is breathing life into our sport through young people. Even if one person my age or younger sees a re-tweet and tunes in to watch a race at Ellis or Saratoga this summer, that's a new set of eyes that may be able to help promote and grow our sport. Speaking from experience, it doesn't take much to fall in love with racing — we hope that we can show people that through social media this summer.”

Kids and young adults interested in participating in #KyDerbyKids 2.0 should email Rees at with name, hometown and the connection to a trainer, owner or jockey involved with 2-year-olds. Please include a photo (with or without a horse) and phone number. Those under 18 should include a parent’s name and contact information. Moms and dads are welcome to help their younger children participate. There is no cutoff date, and kids can participate as often or little as they wish.

"It was an honor to represent my father during the founding year of #KYDerbyKids,” said Hayley Amoss, 23, daughter of trainer Tom Amoss and who created the #KyDerbyKids official hashtag. “What outsiders don't understand are the trials and tribulations that every Derby horse's connections face in hopes of one day winning the roses. KY Derby Kids 2.0 provides the world with unique insight to the journey that every successful 2-year-old takes from the eyes of the horse's biggest fans, the horsemen's family.”

Chance and Hayley are among the originals participants committing  to tweeting about their dads’ 2-year-olds for #KyDerbyKids 2.0. The Kentucky HBPA is donating $100 to the charity of choice for the original participants in #KyDerbyKids. Those “kids” and their designated charity:
Ashley Amoss: Team Gleason
Hayley Amoss: Kentucky Humane Society's Equine C.A.R.E. program.
Keith Asmussen: Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund
Gustavo Delgado Jr.: Old Friends
Bailey Desormeaux: Houston Children’s Charity
Erin McLaughlin: National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Chance Moquett: Old Friends
Hannah Pletcher: Belmont Child Care Association
Blayne Prochaska: American Freedom Foundation
Bailey Romans: Churchill Downs’ Backside Learning Center
Maddie Stevens: Project Night Night
Wes Stewart: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kentuckiana
Tess Von Hemel: Rockin' G Equine Sanctuary

For more information, contact Jennie Rees at

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