Maggie Wolfendale, Paddock Analyst and host for Fox Sports and NYRA is this week's guest on The Player's Edge Podcast and YouTube livestream.
We'll be discussing Saratoga, the Jim Dandy Stakes and more. Join Horse Racing Radar TV live on YouTube, Thursday at 9:30 pm eastern. You can also watch on Facebook Live by liking Horse Racing Radar.
If you have questions, just hit us up in the comments section and will ask Maggie.
Q & A with Maggie Wolfendale
HRR: In multiple interviews, you've said that you were born into horse racing, elaborate on that?
Maggie: So, I'm a third-generation horse person/ race tracker. My paternal grandfather owned a few horses at Waterford Park (Mountaineer) where my eldest uncle Bill Wolfendale started training at a young age and he is two brothers (my dad Howard) and one sister followed suit. On the other side, my maternal grandfather trained, was a jocks agent, clerk of scales, racing secretary, and entry clerk. So my mom, Tammy, started galloping for him when she was 14 at Penn National. And that is where my parents met, they moved to Maryland where my dad started training. I literally spent a good portion of my youth in barn 18 at Laurel Park. We all have shown horses too, so I got my first pony when I was two, started hot walking when I was 12, galloping when I was 16, and got my trainer's license when I was 21. But I know how hard of a life it can be training horses so that's what pushed me to get my degree and go into the field I am in now. But I still love being in the barn and on the horses in the morning.
HRR: Your break came when you sent audition tapes and resumes out to every track. Did you handicap races on camera, make comments on the horses, all of the above? Tell those who might be interested in doing the same thing what you put on those tapes and resumes?
Maggie: I handicapped a few races on camera, which I am surprised anyone hired me off of. I actually think Steve Byck and Andy Serling, after I called into Steve's show one day, started paying attention to me while working in MD and Colonial Downs and saw that I was much more of a horse person who could articulate and provide sound opinions on horses' physicality. That being said, my advice to people starting out is get yourself out there, don't be afraid to make mistakes and be wrong and learn from that, take any opportunity that comes your way.
HRR: Describing the horses in the paddock is your main job. From your experience, what are the tells that a horse will run well and, on the flip side, perform poorly?
Maggie: Horses that look healthy yet fit and just have that happy appearance. Watching them warm up also is a major tell- when they're focused and nicely in the bridle, hitting the ground effortlessly. Negative signs are horses who are over the top with nerves or too quiet, not carrying good muscle mass, dry dull coat.
HRR: What's the funniest thing you've ever seen a horse do in the paddock or warming up?
Maggie: In a warmup a few years back at Saratoga, a filly just stopped in the middle of her warmup for a pee. I've never seen another horse do that.
HRR: Your beat, so to speak, is the NYRA Tracks, Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga. From your experience, what are the most playable biases at each track?
Maggie: Saratoga- when the inner turf course gets very firm, speed can be unbeatable.
Belmont- after rain when the main track starts to dry out inside speed is pretty dangerous. Also saving ground on turf is also a premium, but on the Widener course is doesn't matter, actually its better to make a wide run down the idle of the stretch.
Aqueduct- when they can't get a lot of water on the track due to cold temps, its hard to make up ground.
HRR: It's always tough to measure shippers against the quality that runs in New York, especially Belmont and Saratoga. Which trainers and tracks tend to bring in live horses that can compete?
Maggie: With the increase in purses, and the tremendous focus that KY has on horse racing, KY horses and trainers are improving and always dangerous. And for whatever reason we always see a handful of horses that look overmatched on paper coming from Finger Lakes run well at Saratoga.
HRR: You've been around horse racing your entire life, what do you think is the biggest misconception about the sport and why?
Maggie: That we don't care about the horses. That they are just a living commodity. Don't get me wrong there are bad apples, but there are rotten types in all different industries and sports. Everyone who works with horses love them like family. We would theoretically "work" 24/7 if it wasn't for the love of the horse.
HRR: You advocate for a lot of aftercare programs for when a horse's racing days are done. Fill us in on some of your favorites and where people can go if they want to help out.
Maggie: I am directly affiliated with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation as I serve on their board. I also do a podcast "Off Track", sponsored by the TRF, that focuses on the stories about the horses after they are done racing and the people who love them. People can help out by visiting TRFinc.org.
Make sure you follow Maggie on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/MaggieWolfndale