The Twitterverse is alive and well, and while the horse racing industry for the most part was late to the social media party, there are a number of Twitter accounts that horseplayers should be following.
The demographics of horseplayers does not exactly seem like a good match for social media, but there is plenty of interesting information floating around Twitter, which could help your bottom line or just be entertaining reading.
In other words, it may be time to stop picking up a print copy of The Daily Racing Form, download your past performances on an IPad and finally open a Twitter account.
Twitter gives us an opportunity to vent our frustrations, engage fellow horseplayers, get breaking news alerts, and even gather useful information from trainers, jockeys, and handicappers.
Ahmed Zayat and his son Justin Zayat posted regular updates on their Twitter pages on the progress of Paynter, who was battling colitis and laminitis earlier this year.
Zayat took to Twitter encouraging his followers to write-in Paynter as a nominee for the “Vox Populi” award, a prize that is administered by the connections of the late two-time Horse of the Year Secretariat.
One good example of how Twitter can be valuable is when there is a spill at a racetrack. Within seconds there are usually updates being posted on Twitter from somebody at the track with information on horses and jockeys. Information on HRTV and TVG can sometimes be lacking or incomplete.
I was pretty slow to embrace Twitter, but now my account has 7,693 followers, still far behind Lady Gaga’s legion of 32 million, but I am making headway one degenerate gambler at a time.
I generally post links to articles that I write, toss in a few selections and occasionally vent at a jockey, the industry, or my wife.
Venting on Twitter suits me better than doing it on Facebook, where it will be seen by my family and close friends, many of which are not that interested in horse racing.
Complaining about a bad beat on Facebook could lead to a comment from my Aunt Kate, something like “Why don’t you get a real job?”
I don’t get a chance to engage on Twitter as much as I would like to, but there are many that do, and there are quite a few interesting people in the industry worth following.
Among the jockeys that are active include Rajiv Maragh, Julien Leparoux, Mario Gutierrez, and Joe Bravo.
Maragh recently gave us an update on a recent injury that sent him to the sidelines.
Home now.feeling ok.hopefully this slight fracture heals fast. Miss riding already. ????????????
— Rajiv Maragh (@RajivMaragh) January 2, 2013
Recently retired Chantal Sutherland leads all U.S. based jockeys with 13,017 followers, a far cry from athletes in other sports. For example, LeBron James has 6.7 million followers. Soccer star is Cristiano Ronaldo is No.1 in sports with over 15 million followers.
Gary Stevens, retired Hall of Fame jockey and now broadcaster for NBC and HRTV has 5,615 followers and stays active on Twitter.
Jamie Spencer, who comes to the U.S. to ride occasionally and has been in my doghouse since getting Powerscourt disqualified in the 2004 Arlington Million (G1) has 26,048 followers.
I can’t bring myself to follow him, it just brings back too many bad memories.
Recently hall of fame trainer Bob Baffert took to Twitter to respond to the accusations from fans on social media that he ran an unsound horse after Tweebster dropped from $40,000 to $12,500, broke down and was euthanized after the race. Here is an example of the types of Tweets that I saw after the race:
Makes me ill that G2 placed Tweebster was cast off in a $12.5 claimer. Shame on his wealthy connections. He deserved better. #santaanita — Linda Daly (@casadaly) December 31, 2012
Baffert sent out this tweet and later a statement:
It’s times like these that sort out who your real friends are and those who secretly take satisfaction in watching you suffer.
— Bob Baffert (@Midnightlute) December 31, 2012
We have seen an increase in the past year of trainers embracing Twitter. Among those active include Graham Motion, Doug O’Neill, Gary Contessa, Mark Hennig, Kenny McPeek, and Christophe Clement.
Most engage with fans and horseplayers, so if you have a question or comment, twit away.
One of the most entertaining Twitter accounts for a trainer belongs to T.A. Pletcher. No, not that Todd Pletcher, but @NotTheToddster, a parody account for the five-time Eclipse Award winning trainer.
Carolers at the door regaling us with a little Feliz NaviTodd.
— T.A. Pletcher (@NotTheToddster) December 24, 2012
NYRA approached me about a Pletcher koozie giveaway…told them it was an engraved champagne glass or no go. That’s how I roll. #Saratoga — T.A. Pletcher (@NotTheToddster) June 26, 2012
For most trainers it’s Opening Day…for me it’s “Wrap up the Training Title Day.” #saratoga12 — T.A. Pletcher (@NotTheToddster) July 19, 2012
It turns out Mr. Ed is not the only horse with something to say. Many of the top horses in training and a few at stud let us know what is going on in 140 characters or less.
The queen of Twitter among racehorses is Black Caviar, who has 24,027 followers, outdistancing such stars as Frankel (6,928) and I’ll Have Another (7,419).
The great Zenyatta has 1,378 followers while Team Zenyatta has 3,574 followers.
Wise Dan wished his 357 followers a Merry Christmas on Dec. 25.
Apparently Frankel does not use Spellcheck
Happy new year to all my followers ans thankyou for all your 2012 tweets have a good one love Frankel — Frankel (@frankel_horse) December 31, 2012
Racing Scribes and Handicappers
There is no shortage of racing information out there, such as late changes, track conditions, paddock reports, and selections available. Andy Serling and Maggie Wolfendale do a good job of updating horseplayers with a wide variety of last minute information for New York racing.
Andy is not afraid to speak his mind, whether declaring a track bias, criticizing a jockey’s ride or even a follower on Twitter:
@innerdirt It’s late in 2012, but you secured a nomination for worst Tweet of 2012.
— Andy Serling (@andyserling) December 31, 2012
Most of the Daily Racing Form handicappers are on Twitter, including Jay Privman and Steve Anderson.
A good resource for finding out what is going on in the blogosphere is to follow @TBAblogs, which puts up links to interesting blog posts.
Among the bloggers that seem to be on Twitter 24/7 that are worth a follow include @The_Knight_Sky, @Pullthepocket, @BklynBckstretch, @superfecta, @DubaiRaceNight, @GlennCraven, and @Cangamble.
I am sure I omitted a few, so check out who @TBAblogs follows for a great list of horse racing enthusiasts.
For workout information, there is nobody better than Bruno DeJulio (@DeJulio), who will give you clocker information in the morning and will inform his followers on what wine to drink with dinner at night.
I had a Twitter dustup with DeJulio a few months back when I took a couple of humorous (at least I thought they were) shots at Hansen owner Dr. Kendall Hansen.
DeJulio told me he picked up a few new followers after the confrontation, and I agreed I would not mock his collection of Hansen dolls.
All’s well that ends well on Twitter.
DeJulio tweeted this the other day, in reference to comments made about Tweebster, and there certainly is some truth to it:
@docfondaproblem with racing and society is even though a wonderful tool social media has given courage to cowards who want to lash out
— Racingwithbruno (@DeJulio) January 1, 2013
There are certainly some undesirable people on Twitter that just like to fan the flames. Don’t be afraid of using your “Unfollow” button.
Others that are entertaining to follow include Eclipse Award winning writer Claire Novak, TVG’s Simon Bray, and horseplayer extraordinaire @BombsawayBob.
I know I have missed quite a few worthwhile Twits. A great resource is available by going to America’s Best Racing Twitter Page. They have lists broken down by category that are worth taking a look at to find followers that match your interests in horse racing.
My Twitter handle is @turfnsport. Feel free to follow me, perhaps I’ll post a picture of my lunch or one of my dogs later today. I am all out of Tony Romo tweets.
Tony Romo is to football as Jessica Simpson is to music
— Michael Dempsey (@turfnsport) December 31, 2012
Michael Dempsey provides his full card handicapping report each racing day from New York. His Aqueduct Report is available every day Wednesday through Sunday. Michael has covered the New York circuit daily for more than two decades.
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