By Mari Ballinger
Whatever Empire Racing Stables does, they do it with passion. The story started long ago, owners Angela and Jason Bullard were young kids, attending horse races with their families at La Mesa Park in New Mexico. Although they didn’t cross paths till later in life, they joked that they “for sure played at the playground together”.
Three years ago, Empire Racing Stables was established. The name comes from Jason’s famous line “I want to build an empire”. Turns out, they have created more than an empire. Currently, they have 23 horses with 19 racing at Canterbury. But, their business mindset goes far beyond the horses. They want to give the ownership experience to anyone who wants it. Empire Racing Stables offers opportunities to co-own a horse and has many members who enjoy barn visits, trips to the Winner’s Circle, tours of the paddock, memorabilia, , and much more.
The overall experience is what keeps them going in the first place. “Our favorite racing memories consist of being at the track with family and friends,” said Angela. “It’s as simple as that.”
The Bullard family live a short eight minutes from the track, so it’s a rare occurrence if they aren’t seen at Canterbury Park between Thursday and Sunday. A lot of time, passion and work have been put into Empire Racing.
And the hard word has definitely paid off. Empire Racing Stables stands as Current Leading Owner, but it wasn’t something that was achieved overnight. Jason grew up playing sports and has always had the athlete’s mindset of winning. In January 2019, he started to do his research: What would it take to win? More importantly, what would it take to become leading owner? After looking into the statistics, Bullard figured with around 20 horses and a tremendous amount of effort and luck, Empire Racing had a shot.
After five months in the making, success has never felt better. “It obviously feels great,” Jason Bullard said. “But I try to not get too high about it.”
Winning isn’t the only thing Empire Racing prioritizes, though. Jason and Angela will be the first to admit how important their jockeys are to them and that’s why the choose to support the Leg Up Fund, a foundation established to provide temporary, transitional support to riders injured at Canterbury as they recover and return to the saddle.
“Two years ago, jockey Dean Butler was riding a horse that broke down,” Jason Bullard explains. “He had to miss the rest of the season and it really made me question how we could give back. He is like family to us and to see his career get taken away from him like that was heartbreaking.”
A ‘Beer Bash’ was held for Butler and $9,000 was raised to help support him during the recovery process.
This past Sunday, Leg Up Day took place at Canterbury Park and Dean Butler participated in the Jockey Hippity Hop Challenge. Of course, he was sponsored by none other than Empire Racing Stables.