Real Life Writing Research by Stacy Hoff


When are writers not writing and yet still heard at work? When they are researching of course. And the best way to do research can be summed up in two words: road trip!

The latest manuscript I’m working on is set in the world of thoroughbred horse racing. After reading dozens of detailed (and often hard to understand) books about the sport, I decided to pack up my car, and my husband, and take off to learn about horse racing first hand.

The first stop was Belmont Park (home of the famous Belmont Stakes). My husband and I took an early morning tour to see what normal racing fans don’t typically see— the “backstretch.” This area is where the horses are housed, trained, prepped and cared for. The area seems as populated as a small city but is built like one big barn. The bustle here was stark contrast to the racetrack itself, which was pretty quiet due to the early hour. The only action on the track was from stable staff exercising the horses in gentle trots.

Here’s a picture of the track right at dawn. Watching the horses work out as the sun comes out is a beautiful sight to behold.

Belmont Racetrack

After Belmont, I dragged my husband all the way to Saratoga Springs to see the National Racing Museum, the Saratoga racetrack and downtown Saratoga Springs, where all horse lovers shop, play and eat. In fact, everything in the town is a tribute to the horse racing industry. See the horse statue “hidden” in my picture below of the town? And the very top photo shows another horse statue in another part of town. That horse statue, covered in rainbows and ice cream cones, is called “I’m too Little to Ride.”

saratoga downtowan

Besides loving the town, I learned tons about horse racing from the National Racing Museum, right across the street from the Saratoga track. Everything from the history of the sport, to the nature of thoroughbreds, to winning horses throughout American history. We learned even more by taking the Museum’s “Oklahoma Tour,” where we got to see the horses prepare for the Saratoga races.

After all this learning, we needed to unwind. Luckily, we decided to hike the nearby New York State Park, where the famous springs of Saratoga are. I highly recommend it for a lovely hike and a chance to taste water noted for its healing power. Here’s a picture of one of the creeks.

Saratoga Springs

I never knew research could be so much fun!

What are you researching this summer?

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4 Responses to Real Life Writing Research by Stacy Hoff

  1. Kathy O. says:

    My summer research — Ancient Egyptian temples and tombs. So glad you asked. I look forward to reading the variety in other comments.

  2. Rhonda Lane says:

    No research this summer, because I’ve been focusing on making pages, but this spring, when I went to Nashville for the Authors Combat Academy to straighten out my book’s fight scene, I spent some extra time in gaited horse country. I visited the Tennessee Walking Horse National Museum and rode my first TWH. They move much differently than other horses thanks to a genetic mutation.

    • stacyhoff says:

      Very exciting, Rhonda! Keep in mind that I was only able to do my research because of you. Thanks for telling me about the National Racing Museum. I owe you!

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