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Horse Racing

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by PalmettoStatesport, Apr 5, 2010.

  1. Our shop is going to cover the Opening Day of horse racing at the local track and I drew the short straw on that. I've been to a few tracks as a gambler but never as a journalist. What are things that you, who cover horse racing routinely, look for on opening day for stories?
    Any insight would be appreciated.
  2. middleman

    middleman New Member

    We have a track here and the best stories typically are on the jockeys. These guys usually run multiple races per session and almost always have a good story.
  3. silvercharm

    silvercharm Member

    Ask for the guy at the track known as Native Diver. He's the guy who will be scooping up tickets off the ground, looking for a winner someone mistakenly threw away.
  4. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    Much depends on what classification we talkin' . . . we about the likes of Churchill, Louisiana Downs, or the real boooooshes? (generalizing, so that
    we don't out . . . )
  5. Tim Sullivan

    Tim Sullivan Member

    Begin by abandoning the idea that you pulled the short straw. Horse racing may be a niche sport, but there are terrific stories all over the track and the people tend to be more genuine than you find in more mainstream (and cliche-ridden) sports.
    Jim Murray's last column was from Del Mar. Red Smith wrote elegantly on horses for decades. W.C. Heinz' "Death of a Racehorse" is an enduring gem. Google it.
    These brilliant writers were drawn to the races by the characters and the culture -- from the billionaire owners to the hard-working people living hand-to-mouth on the backside. If you can't find a story at the track, you aren't looking.
  6. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    I agree with Tim. The only bad thing about horse racing is you have to get up so early to cover it. But any track (Suffolk Downs sure qualifies as "any") has about as many great stories as it has people in it.
  7. Elliotte Friedman

    Elliotte Friedman Moderator Staff Member

    When I was first made to cover horse racing, I whined and bitched like a 12-year-old girl. That opinion changed quickly.

    I don't know if you'll be able to cover any major races, but the spectacle is really something. For TV, it's outstanding. For print/web, there's great opportunity for photos and color pieces. And, it might mean some 4 am wakeups, but the other posters have mentioned that the jockeys/trainers are great stories. You can also never go wrong by asking one of them (or an owner) how they look for/determine what a great horse.
  8. Mark McGwire

    Mark McGwire Member

    If you're tempted to bet on a horse called Air Lift, don't. It may look good as it heads down the stretch, but it will not end well. Trust me.
  9. I appreciate all the insight. I would love to incorporate a weekly story from the track at my shop. Our post time is 6:55 p.m. and they race in the evening and throughout the night so no early mornings.
  10. Wenders

    Wenders Well-Known Member

    They work out in the mornings. Trainers/jockeys are probably more accessible after morning workouts.
  11. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    I wish I could have covered horse racing at my old paper. Heck, even greyhound racing. For a couple months one summer there was a dog that was blowing away everyone, it turned into somewhat of a local sensation with a couple thousand more people than usual showing up on nights he ran. His odds were always 1-10 and I'm sure the track lost money on those races because the computer system couldn't make him 1-100. The guy who covered the track got a 1A story out of the dog and his quirky owner.
  12. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    One of the perks of the game is the early-mornings, especially if you have access to the top outfits. There are writers in the business who are afraid of/allergic to horses, and/or allergic to being on the scene at dawn. Their
    loss. Dawn at Saratoga is one of the unvarnished joys of this life.
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