We are pleased to welcome Victoria Howard to our Female Power Category. As you will see below she is a versatile person and author. Thanks to Jen Roytz for this awesome article chronicling Victoria’s life and career.
From Standardbreds And Thoroughbreds To Dating Advice – A Life Well Lived
by Jen Roytz | 09.13.2016 | 6:15pm
It’s safe to say that Victoria Howard has lived one of the more colorful lives that has been lived. In addition to being a talented author of nearly 15 books, including Roosevelt Raceway: Where It All Began, which chronicles the history and milestones of the iconic racetrack, and the children’s book The Adventures of Max and Molly, a story about a unlikely friendship between a horse and a dog, Howard has been a Standardbred owner/trainer, model, Mrs. West Virginia-USA, radio show host, game show host, advice columnist and more.
“You could say I’ve led a pretty interesting life,” said Howard, from her Boca Raton, Florida home. “Years ago my girlfriends and I were on a cruise and telling each other stories and they said, ‘Your life is amazing – you should write a book!’ So, just for the hell of it, I wrote a book called, Why Women Love Bad Boys.”
The book, which came out in 2007, drew rave reviews and went on to be translated and published in 15 countries.
It also was the catalyst for Howard to host a game show called Kick ‘Em to the Curb, a question and answer game fashioned after the popular show, The Dating Game. Capitalizing off of Howard’s fiery personality and quick wit, the show featured one contestant asking questions of three potential “dates” hidden behind a patrician. Based on their answers and Howard’s weigh-in, the contestant would decide which potential date to “kick to the curb.”
Since then, Howard has continued to churn out books and advice, covering everything from relationships to horseracing.
“My publisher laughs about me being so diversified with the topics I choose, but I just like to write,” said Howard.
A Love for Horses
Howard’s love for writing is rivaled only by her love for animals, mainly horses. The owner of ten Standardbreds spread across the eastern half of North America between Indiana, Canada and Kentucky, originally discovered harness racing with her father and boyfriend-turned-husband during a spur-of-the-moment trip to the trotting track.
“I was a senior in high school and getting ready to go to college and I went to Wheeling Downs with my dad,” said Howard. “We were hooked immediately. Soon after dad, my boyfriend and I put our money together and claimed a horse. Her name was Whodu Girl and she was owned by three people who had no clue what they were doing, but she ended up winning her first start for us and we thought, ‘Hey, this is easy!’”
At the time of the claim, Howard’s boyfriend was in school pursuing a legal career, but the pair were bitten by the racing bug. Before long they were married and running a small stable of harness horses together.
Unfortunately the marriage did not last, but Howard’s love of harness racing endured. She later married (and ultimately divorced) Standardbred owner John Howard and together the couple owned a large stable of horses based at the Meadows.
“After my second divorce I got out of the business. I started traveling and kept writing and taking on a variety of fun projects,” said Howard. “About eight years ago I got back into horse ownership.”
While she doesn’t get to see her horses in person as often as she would like, she follows them closely, watching their races from Pompano Park’s simulcast hub.
“Most of my horses are with Bruce Nickells in Indiana. He’s a true elder statesman in the industry and I’m lucky to have my horses with him and his daughter, Brooke,” said Howard. “A few others race at Mohawk in Canada, and in the winter some of them come to Florida to Sunshine Meadows, which I love because I get to see them nearly every day.”
Still Going Strong
Howard has no plans to slow down. She still writes extensively, about both relationships and horses.
She pens a weekly self-titled advice column in South Florida’s Aroundtown News. The column, Dear Victoria, offers her answers to questions submitted by readers in a witty, no-nonsense style similar to that made famous by the popular syndicated column Dear Abby.
She also has several other books in the works or just recently released, including Rose Runners – Chronicles of the Kentucky Derby Winners, which will tell short stories about each of the 142 winners of America’s signature Thoroughbred race.
“When I write about horses, it’s usually Standardbreds, but I said to Bob [Marks], my partner on the books, ‘Let’s do something different and write about the Derby winners,’” she said. “Every horse has such a unique story with these little tidbits that most people don’t know.”
Through writing The Adventures of Max and Molly, Howard found a love for writing children’s books as well, and finds enjoyment bringing true stories and life lessons to a younger generation in a creative, fun way.
“I just finished a new kids book about California Chrome called Junior – The Horse that Won the Kentucky Derby, which is what they call him around the barn,” explained Howard.
Her research for Junior brought Howard to Kentucky, where she met with Duncan Taylor and others at Taylor Made Farm, who is part-owner of the horse and will stand him upon retirement. While in Kentucky she also visited the Kentucky Horse Park.
“That place is amazing. There is no place else like it in the world – I fell in love with it. I’ve talked with them and I’m going to work on a book about the Park, talking about the various horses that have called it home, and I am going to donate a percentage of the sales from the book to the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation.”
As much as horses have and continue to be a part of Howard’s life, she jokes that she’s never actually ridden one.
“I’ve been in a jog cart, but that’s about as close as I’ve gotten to being in the saddle,” she joked. “I’ve been fortunate to merge my two loves – writing and horses – into a lifestyle. I write eight to ten hours a day and I enjoy going to Pompano on the weekends and to watch my horses run up North. I can’t imagine my life any other way. I truly love it.”
Reprinted with permission from MidWest Harness Report