DEL MAR, Calif. -- If not for Myracehorse.com, Robin Hoffos wouldn't have taken off on a 31-hour round trip odyssey from his home in Ramona to Indiana.
He wouldn't have boarded a plane early in the morning of July 17 at Lindbergh Field, flown to Indianapolis and paid a ride-share driver to haul him 36 miles to Shelbyville.
There, in the middle of miles of farmland, is Indiana Grand Racing & Casino, which has a track that hosts quarter horse and thoroughbred racing for seven months of the year.
Hoffos made the journey to see one horse in one race -- 3-year-old, Kentucky-bred Street Band in the Grade III Indiana Oaks. He'd purchased a small stake in the filly online from Myracehorse.com and wanted to see her perform in person.
Before the race, Hoffos went to the tiny paddock and chatted up Street Band's jockey, Sophie Doyle, and then he settled in at the rail as the sun went down and the lights came on for the 9 p.m. feature.
Quite the animated storyteller, Hoffos takes it from there: "She freakin' wins the race! The horse wins, and it's like hitting the lottery! I was the first guy in the winner's circle, and here comes this wave of people. It was pandemonium."
It is that experience that more casual horse racing fans are having since the Claremont-based Myracehorse.com (MRH) started up a year ago. For less than $100, people can become a horse owner and enjoy some of the excitement and perks that were heretofore reserved for those with thousands of dollars to invest in racing.
At Del Mar last year, MRH was involved in a couple of winning strikes -- by the Doug O'Neill-trained Takeo Squared (who was later retired due to injury) and Peter Miller's Sauce On Side. After those victories, it was a raucous winner's circle, with a couple dozen people clamoring to be a part of the winners' photo.
"It's hard to find a fast horse, and when you do there's nothing like it," said MRH founder and CEO Michael Behrens.
On this day, more micro-owners will get their shot with a couple of 2-year-olds in two races at Del Mar -- the first race with Tizamagician, trained by Richard Mandella, and the fourth race with Moonless Sky, conditioned by Eddie Truman.