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QandA with TVG's Rich Perloff

Horse Racing Radar
Rich Bieglmeier
Thursday, April 1, 2021

TVG's Richard Perloff is this week's The Player's Edge guest, and he was gracious enough to spend some time with Horse Racing Radar for a Q&A. It's an opportunity to get to get to know the TVG personality and some cool things you may not have known about him.

Rich Perloff is the host of #TelevisionGames on @TVG and is super interactive with horseplayers on Twitter @RichPerloff. Make sure you send him your picks. You never know, your pick could end up on TVG like our own Terry "Hollywood" Hay's $9 place horse.

HRR: After you graduated Michigan Law School you took a position as an attorney, and then as an Assistant Professor of Theatre at Ohio University. How did you go from an Attorney to a Theatre Professor to a TVG Broadcaster?

TVG's Richard Perloff: Theatre was my first professional field. Before I attended law school, I worked for six years as an actor. I had a pretty good run of it, too. I was strictly a stage guy - nothing against film or TV, but it's just not what I wanted to do - and poverty kind of comes with the territory. So, after six years of nearly full-time employment (LOTS of Shakespeare, a few years' worth of national tours, etc.), I decided I'd like to experience what it was like to actually make a living wage, and that's where the law school thing came in. I loved law school, but always felt that it would be a coin-toss as to whether I enjoyed legal practice. As it turns out, I didn't HATE being an attorney, but...I didn't love it, either. So, I went back to school (again!), completed my MFA in Acting/Directing, and then got the gig teaching Acting at Ohio U.

HRR: How did you get introduced to horse racing?

TVG's Richard Perloff: My dad used to work half days on Saturday. One day he came home around noon and asked me if I wanted to do something. I said "sure," and we drove out to Santa Anita. I had never been to the races, and he hadn't been since he was in the service in WWII. We stayed for four races. He made $10 win bets, hit 3/4, and bought me a new bike. I was hooked.

HRR: Of all the races that you've seen, which one stands out as the most memorable and why?

TVG's Richard Perloff: ACK ACK was the best horse in America when I first started going racing; to this day, he's still my all-time favorite. Seeing him go wire-to-wire in the 1971 Hollywood Gold Cup under Bill Shoemaker and carrying 134 pounds is still the greatest performance I ever saw in person.

HRR: As a TVG host, you interact with viewers, which is great, tell us about the funniest moment with a viewer that you remember?

TVG's Richard Perloff: Most of my interaction is via email/tweet. For a time, I had some emailers who had made it their mission in life to try to get me to say off-color and/or inappropriate things on the air. I could usually pick those things up in advance. But, once day, I got an email from a guy claiming to be writing from the town of "___________" in Mexico. I read it aloud, and I immediately started to get other emails: "Do you know what you just said in Spanish?!" I was kind of mortified, but...at the same time, I had to tip my hat to the dude. It was a clever ruse, and he totally got me.

HRR: How long does it take for you to handicap a race and what are your favorite angles?

TVG's Richard Perloff: It totally depends on the race. I might be able to arrive at a selection in 15-20 minutes, but...if I'm dealing with a field of 2YO MSWs full of first-time starters, that's probably an hour's worth of digging. I've got a LOT of angles; I collect them in what I call the "Handicappers Toolbox," and bust them out as needed. I've always believed that good handicapping requires flexibility; you have to allow each individual race to speak to you, and then find the handicapping principle (pace, class, pedigree, etc.) that best applies to that race.

HRR: Let's go back to your pre-horse racing days. You were on Jeopardy when the show moved to Los Angeles. You made it to Final jeopardy as the leader. For those who haven't seen it, what happened in Final Jeopardy?

TVG's Richard Perloff: Ugh. Brutal. They always announce the Final Jeopardy category before the last commercial break, and Alex said, "The Final Jeopardy category is: The English Language." I was already counting my money (I was leading going into Final). Not to be. They threw me a wicked curveball. The final answer was: "Site of 1978 headline tragedy, it is the only South American country with English as its national language." The defending champ started scribbling immediately, so I knew that she knew the answer. I drew a total blank. The correct answer was Guyana (Jonestown tragedy), and there's no way I'd ever have known that was in So. America. Strikes me as more of a Geography question, but...that's just sour grapes. I was in a position to win and was a no-excuse 2nd. I got lovely parting gifts.

HRR: Tell us a little about your interactions with Alex Trebek?

TVG's Richard Perloff: Dude could not possibly have been nicer. He made it a point to drop in on us prospective contestants a couple of times during our day at the studio, to make sure we had everything we needed. That's how I remember him; just a really pleasant guy.

HRR: How do you feel your acting education and background helps you in your TVG role?

TVG's Richard Perloff: It's funny. When I first started going on the air for TVG, one producer, in particular, kept telling me that I had to be "in performance" every time I was on; that I was, in essence, playing a character. In retrospect, I think he was 100% wrong about that. My job is to be ME, meaning: a guy who honestly and truly LOVES horseracing, and is enthusiastic about it ALL THE TIME. There's no BS, and no embellishment. I'm a guy who loves the game, and that's what I hope to communicate. Do I have particular language/speaking skills that help me do what I do? I sure hope so. But, I'm not really acting when I'm on the air; I'm just being.

HRR: Your Twitter says that you are a lover of all things Shakespeare. In the spirit of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament, what is your Shakespeare Final 4 and Champ?

TVG's Richard Perloff: Okay, this is a world-class question. So, here's how it breaks down: On the "Comedy" side of the bracket, "Twelfth Night" emerges from their region as a #1 seed, but they find themselves in a real scrap in the semi-final with "Loves Labour's Lost," a mid-major that had to win a play-in game just to make the field. "Twelfth Night" gets stretched all the way to the wire by "LLL," but ultimately prevails in an overtime nail-biter. On the Tragedy side, "Hamlet" barely gets by "Othello" in the regional semi, and "King Lear" takes care of business against "Macbeth" in the other semi. In the final, "Twelfth Night" is just simply overmatched against "King Lear" (too much Senior leadership) and "Lear" wins going away.

HRR: Finally, did you have Michigan going all the way in your NCAA pool and how blown up is your bracket?

TVG's Richard Perloff: When Michigan basketball is viable - which it is most years - I build my brackets by popping them in as champion and working backwards from there. I love the tournament under any circumstances, but it's better when I have a real rooting interest.


Check out This week's upcoming podcast of The Player's Edge for more from TVG's Rich Perloff including picks for this weekend's big races.