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Monday, November 9, 2015

Player Spotlight Segment: Emily Gullikson

We recently did a “Player Spotlight” segment with Emily Gullikson.  Emily is a relatively new horseplayer, and we asked her about what got her involved in horse racing, what her handicapping process is, and some other info. 

Q:  How long have you been handicapping? How did you get the bug?

A:  I am still relatively new to handicapping, playing for just about five years. My background and career is in athletics. I spent a lot of my childhood around horses. I rode hunter/jumper and worked at the barn, I would be there all day with horses. I went to the local track a few years ago and what got me hooked was the Racing Form and the handicapping aspect. I did not know anyone at the time that was into racing. I read books, and searched out anything I could that would help me learn. I’ve been a full-fledged player ever since. 

Q:  What type of handicapper would you generally be described as? Are you a data cruncher, angles, pace, speed, watch replays, or a pure combination of them?

A:  Form cycle. I’m looking at a lot of different factors such as replays, trainer angles, pace, and performance figures to assess a horses’ form and condition going into the race. Watching replays is a big part of that. One of the roles I have at OptixEQ is writing trip notes. I have watched, without exaggeration, thousands of races and race replays this year covering Gulfstream, NYRA tracks, CD and Keeneland. Writing trip notes is a lot more in depth that just picking up on the winner, and the obvious trouble. It is important I watch every performance and grade that effort properly. Within the notes, I will include projections such as, shorter, needs to add/remove blinkers, needs a drop. The visual aspect has become a huge part of my handicapping. 

Q:  In your Twitter bio it seems you are competitive by nature (sports, fitness). If so, do you think being competitive is a reason why you enjoy the pursuit of handicapping?

A:  Playing in handicapping tournaments certainly brings out my competitive side. I’m semi-retired from actively participating in sports. That urge to “train” and “compete” is engaged when gearing up to play a tournament. I play better when I’m sharp and mentally prepared. The preparation and steps involved getting ready for a big handicapping tournament are very similar when I got ready for a game day. 

Q:  What do you most like about horse racing?

A:  Earlier today backed at 6/1 at Belmont. I watched as this “best bet of the day” stumbled out of the gate and instantly lost all chance. Immediately followed that up in the next race, with 26/1 tourney horse that absolutely stood in the gate, spotted the field, made a late rally to get up for fourth and then galloped out past the winner.

One of the most memorable times in my life came standing on the winner’s circle rail watching Zenyatta in the 2010 Vanity. Horse racing, in mere seconds, can bring out every possible emotion. There is nothing like it. 

Q:  What do you think can be improved in the sport for someone like you, as a customer?

A:  From a handicapping and player aspect I would like to have more information available about the horse on race day. This includes equipment changes, such as a first time starter debuting in blinkers, the addition or removal of front wraps, and shoe information/changes. When a horse is scratched by the veterinarian the reason for the scratch should be listed. Along those lines, I would be interested in knowing the weight of the horse coming into race.

Another improvement that should be implemented is the way inquiries and objections are handled. Ideally, we could be watching the video as the stewards are watching the video, listening to their discussions, along with the phone conversations with the jockeys involved.

This piece appeared in the October edition of Horseplayer Monthly.  To read the rest of the issue, FOR FREE, please click here.

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