QandA with Ashley Mailloux

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Rich Bieglmeier is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Thursday, March 25, 2021

We had a chance to catch up with this week's The Players Edge podcast guest Ashley Mailloux to see how things are working out for her in South Florida. She also shares her thoughts on how horse racing could appeal to new fans as it appealed to her as young girl on family trips to the horse races.

On the Players' Edge Podcast, she will tell us who she likes in the Florida Derby and provide insights from Gulfstream Park. Make sure you put it on your calendar.

HRR: Your parents would take you to the track as a young girl and that's how you fell in love with horse racing. You said your dad jokingly takes credit for your math abilities because of teaching you how to read the odds. What handicapping method did he teach you as a young girl that you use most often today?

Ashley Mailloux: I don't know if there is a specific "method" that my dad taught me as a kid, but the Daily Racing Form was what my dad used, and he taught me how to read the form at a young age. I would ask questions and little by little, I'd learn something new each time we went to the track. Many years later, the DRF is still my go to!

HRR: In getting ready for our podcast, doing our usual due diligence on our guests, you mentioned in a post on your high school page that your friends would be surprised that you went home to work after college. Well, now you are at Gulfstream Park in Miami, a long way from Buffalo. Tell us if it was the job or the weather that motivated you?

Ashley Mailloux: While the weather is completely different in Florida than Western New York, it was 100% the job that motivated me to move. I have always been passionate about racing and the past few years; I've been patiently waiting (and hoping) for the right opportunity to come along. I was lucky to land a job in a sunny place, but I must admit, I miss the change of season already as well as the hiking spots back home!

HRR: Fill us in on what you are doing at Gulfstream.

Ashley Mailloux: I am a project lead for 1/ST Racing and work out of Gulfstream Park. I work and manage a variety of projects that involve all different aspects of racing and operations. I am lucky to work with Aidan Butler, the COO of 1/ST Racing and President of 1/ST Content. I just started two months ago, and I've already learned a lot from him and he has given me numerous opportunities to learn and grow.

HRR: You have a Masters in Applied Mathematics, two questions:

1 – how do you use advanced math to help you with your handicapping?

Ashley Mailloux: I don't have some creative algorithm or software that I created myself or anything like that. I'm a form gal. I read the DRF, watch replays, and when possible, I try to watch workouts. In terms of handicapping, I'm always looking for value. While in the past few years, I've dabbled more in horizontal wagers, exactas and trifectas are still my go-to wagers and I'm constantly looking for a price horse to key.

2 – you used to assess risk when working at M&T Bank. How can horse racing use risk modeling techniques to maximize/improve the safety for horses, track surfaces, jockeys...?

Ashley Mailloux:  At my job at M&T Bank, patterns and certain behaviors can tell us a lot about a customer of the bank. With anything, patterns are indicative. When something continuously happens, a change needs to be made and sometimes the changes are minimal. When collecting data and information, the more you collect and track, usually the better. I think in terms of improving safety of the horses and their riders and quality of the track, collecting data is key. All sorts of data would be beneficial – how the track is being maintained, weather conditions, the composition of the track, what sorts of injuries are popping up, etc. These are just things that come to my mind, I'm not an expert on track surfaces, but these are the sorts of things someone would want to collect and analyze to see if they can make adjustments to improve quality, etc. From articles I've read over the years, there is a lot that goes into maintaining a racetrack and keeping it safe – personally, I find it quite interesting and suggest other fans of the sport read up on it. There is certainly a science to it.

HRR: You've visited around 40 tracks prior to COVID and wanted to get back on the trail of visiting tracks once things reopened to the public. Oaklawn was next on your list. Have you been there, and if so, how was the experience?

Ashley Mailloux: I have not been to Oaklawn yet. I honestly was hoping that last year or this year, I'd be able to take my dad for his birthday, but with COVID, I put that plan on hold. Del Mar is one track that I hope I can check off my list in 2021. A lot of folks say it's better than Saratoga, which is one of my favorites, so I must see it for myself!

HRR: For a sport to grow, it must attract new fans, particularly young fans. Once again, a two-part question.

1 – your love of the sport of kings started when you were young through your parents taking you to the track. We've heard the same story from multiple podcast guests. What can tracks do to make going to the track a family friendly day out?

Ashley Mailloux: I think tracks need to have more family-friendly amenities available. When I was a kid, I remember pony rides at Tampa Bay Downs, a kids club at Woodbine Racetrack, etc. Those "little" experiences turned out to be not so little in the grand scheme of things. Two summers ago, my nieces went to Fort Erie for the first time and they loved just seeing the horses in the paddock and the excitement of the races. When I was a kid, I was the same way. Fort Erie does a family day at the races with a bounce house, face painting, etc. and it's a great opportunity to get kids to the track and to expose them to racing. There are so many fun events that racetracks can put on to attract families and I feel that this is somewhere that the industry falls flat. Hopefully once we're all not dealing with a pandemic, racetracks can hold some of these events.

2 – how would you suggest the horse racing industry use social media tools to bring more, younger people to the track?

Ashley Mailloux: Social media is a powerful tool and one that can be used to really show the different experiences at the racetrack. I firmly believe that you can take someone to the racetrack for the first time and upon leaving the track, they can name one thing that they enjoyed - there is something for everyone. Whether it's the social atmosphere on a big race day, post-race entertainment, tasty food and beverages, gambling, or the thrill of the races themselves, there is something for everyone. Social media can be used to highlight all experiences – not just a particular one. This past year, I feel like the multimedia companies in horse racing did a great job marketing racing via social media platforms and due to COVID, at one time, racing was the only sport still operating so a lot of different organizations capitalized on the opportunity to promote the sport through social media since basically no one was allowed to attend the races. For example, America's Best Racing put on several livestream shows to promote racing and teach others how to handicap/wager, and TVG did a tremendous job providing viewers with behind-the-scenes footage on some of racing's biggest days such as the Breeders' Cup. Going forward, we need to continue to find creative ways to promote the sport and attract new fans of all ages.

HRR: My nephews and nieces are your age, some are concerned with the treatment of horses, which is understandable. How should the industry tackle the issue of horse safety/wellbeing?

Ashley Mailloux: Education is key. As an industry, we can verbalize how well horses are treated, but we need to show people how well they are treated. Let them see for themselves with their own eyes. I'd love to see tracks offer more morning tours of the backside and allow them to see just how well the horses are taken care of and how much they are loved. In my opinion, the mornings at the racetrack are the absolute best and it's where all the heavy lifting is done in order to prep horses for the races. You can see all the different people involved with the horses and how much they care for each animal in their shed row. They're treated like members of the family and it's something that is truly special.

HRR: Finally, you said that you are more Buffalo Sabres than Buffalo Bills. With the Bills ever so close to being a Super Bowl team, is that still the case?

No. I love the Sabres, the Bills... not so much. I was raised in a non-Bills household and I don't think I'll ever change. I don't root against them, but I don't root for them.

HRR: And, now that you are in South Florida, lucky you, are you going to switch your pro-hockey allegiance to the Florida Panthers?

Ashley Mailloux: I don't think so, but with the way things are going for the Sabresso this season... I may need to switch my allegiance, haha! I do hope to attend a Panthers game before the season ends – hockey games are a lot of fun to attend and my second favorite sport, behind horse racing, of course!

Catch up with Ashley on Twitter at @ashley_mailloux and Facebook at