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Horse Racing Next Gen: Edmonton Oilers Centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins his horse, Zenya

EDMONTON - He’s not exactly D. Wayne Lukas, but even the legendary horse trainer got his start somewhere.

Growing up, Edmonton Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had two passions: hockey and thoroughbred racing.

While he’s well on his way in being prolific with one, Nugent-Hopkins just recently endeavored back into the other, purchasing a filly with the intention of racing her in the near future.

“Actually my mom’s dad was huge into it and he used to sell horses and stuff and used to breed them a little bit in Vancouver, at a track called Hastings,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “My mom met my dad and they were both big horseracing fans. So my brother and I kind of grew up at the track.

“Every weekend we’d go and we’d spend a lot of time there, and my grandpa would be there all the time. It was kind of a family thing and it’s something that I’ve done throughout my whole life.”

Before he was born, Nugent-Hopkins’s father, Roger, was an owner with a stake in a number of horses.

“Actually one of his horses was pretty good,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “He was a really good two-year-old, and he won quite a bit of money for him, so that was pretty cool.

“When my brother was born he still used to own part of few horses and then he bred a couple. Once I came along, he stopped with that.”

Being around the track as a kid, Nugent-Hopkins got to know the inner workings of the horse racing game.

After being the first overall pick for the Oilers in the 2011 NHL Draft, then quickly signing a lucrative entry-level contract, he had the financial means to get back into it at an ownership level.

“Two years ago, I bought a horse,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “She hasn’t raced yet, but she’ll race come April or May this year.

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