Encouraged by the growing popularity of horse racing in movies
and on television, lifelong racing fan Ann Sabo says she created her
popular cartoon, Off the Pace, to help share the sport of
horse racing through an untapped medium.
Off The Pace is an original gag panel cartoon created by Ann Sabo in 2009. Sabo says she created the strip after observing a lacking presence of racing in popular comics.
“The topic of horse racing seemed limited to sport-featured editorial cartoons or to the occasional mention in daily comic strips,” Sabo said. “I wondered if it wasn’t time for horse racing to have its own comic? A comic with returning characters and a continuous storyline that could entertain the hard- core racing fan as well as the occasional racing enthusiast.”
Inspired to move forward by the growing popularity of racing in other forms of media (movies, reality television, pay channel dramatic series) Sabo developed a storyline around two main characters: a towering 17-hands filly Diva, and her only jockey Filep Szabo, a dedicated horseman determined to advance their lackluster careers.
With this pair of opposites—the high maintenance filly versus the co-dependent perfectionist, the cartoon focuses on their continuous battle of wills from the shedrows of the backside to the racetrack and beyond.
“In my initial drafts of the cartoon, the horse was a head strong colt,” Sabo related. “After seeing the great interest surrounding Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, I redrew the colt into an equally intimidating female counterpart. The switch broadened the storyline to allow for the male vs. female perspective and even greater gag potential.”
Sabo grew up on Florida’s west central coast and owes her involvement in racing to her parents who had owned and raced standardbreds while living in New Jersey.
“My father and I followed Florida’s harness, thoroughbred and greyhound racing action and I enjoyed frequenting various tracks throughout the years,” she said. “I currently work out of my home studio as a freelance graphic designer and cartoonist, I am a member of the National Cartoonists Society and enjoy being only a 20- minute drive from Tampa Bay Downs where I conduct my weekly research and enjoy great weather, racing and conversation with patrons, handicappers, trainers, backstretch workers and the staff of Tampa Bay Downs.”
Ann’s work will appear on this site regularly in the coming weeks and months. To learn more about Ann and her work, click here.
Off the Pace contributed by Ann Sabo