Q and A with JJ Hysell

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Thursday, July 15, 2021

J.J. and the crew will talk about her career covering horse racing and what it's like to be a fan at the same time. J.J. tells us know who she thinks are the funniest people in horse racing and shares her favorite memory.

And, of course, she and the crew will be making picks for the Molly Pitcher Stakes, United Nations Stakes and the Haskell this Saturday at Monmouth Park.

Make sure you follow J.J. on Twitter at:

HRR: You've been around horse racing for a little bit. Tell us how you first got involved with the Sport of Kings?

JJ: I've followed racing since I was about seven years old. While my friends were at the amusement park or the mall, I was always at the track.  Also, my mom's side of the family were avid racing fans. My mom was named after a racehorse and my uncle's name was Delmar.

HRR: How did you become a horse racing reporter? Was it always the plan?

JJ: I started out as a general sports reporter covering everything from local sports to college basketball for national websites. But, horse racing being my first love, I made an extra effort to make that my specialty.

HRR: As a reporter, you've seen a lot, what is your favorite memory?

JJ: There are so many, thankfully! But the one that stirs my memory the most will always be standing directly by the finish line of the 1998 Belmont Stakes and having a bird's-eye view of Victory Gallop narrowly denying Real Quiet a Triple Crown. I turned and gave a "thumbs down" gesture to the fans, who couldn't decipher the result, to let them know history would have to wait once again.

HRR: What changes have you seen through the years that are good for the sport?

JJ: Changes being made to promote inclusion and diversity, both among fans and participants, have greatly benefitted the sport. The industry must continue wholeheartedly with these efforts.

HRR: And bad for the sport?

JJ: The separation of the sport from gamblers is troubling. While crowd size and revenue from on-track events is, of course, very important, wagering keeps the sport afloat.

HRR: If you had the power to change one thing in horse racing, what would it be?

JJ: I would immediately install uniform medication rules across all jurisdictions in the United States. I would also require stewards to publicly release statements about any decisions regarding disqualifications and/or inquiries in a race.

HRR: How do you feel social media has impacted horse racing?

JJ: As with most topics, it has both benefits and detractions. But from what I've seen, many positives have come from social media, including fans being able to connect and meet at tracks, as well as helping racehorses find homes and new careers after their time on the track.

HRR: Who is the funniest person you've encountered in horse racing and why?

JJ: That's a tough one! I would have to say jockey Mike Smith is pretty funny. He has a great, uplifting attitude. Trainer D. Wayne Lukas also has a quick wit. 

HRR: When it comes to handicapping, what are your preferred angles?

JJ: My strengths are 2-year-old/early 3-year-old races and turf races because pedigree is one of my top angles, and that is often a key element. Surface switches and distance changes based on pedigree can be profitable plays.

HRR: Which track was your favorite to cover and what about it made it your favorite? 

JJ: Of course, Churchill Downs will always have a place in my heart, and Keeneland is absolutely magical. But my favorite track to cover is always Belmont, because of so many great memories of Triple Crown hopes on the line, and the tremendous spotlight on racing in New York.

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