How did you become a handicapper and racing analyst? When I watched my brothers cash tickets at the track when we were teenagers, I started to take notes about how to wager. But I never thought it would come in handy until I got a media internship at Arlington Park. Then, with advice from several mentors and a lot of study, I eventually developed the expertise to become a racing commentator.
What are some of your basic handicapping strategies or philosophies? I look for good connections at decent odds; first of the claim for high percentage trainers; and consistent breeze patterns.
Talk a little bit about what you’ll be doing on any given day? For each race, I’ll offer my thoughts on how horses look in the paddock, make picks alongside Mike Battaglia, post selections on Twitter, and do interviews with trainers and jockeys. I’ll also host handicapping seminars at the track.
What do you look for in the paddock when looking at horses before a race? Confidence, good flesh and a bounce in his/her step
How will handicapping at Keeneland be different for you? Consistency of competition. Every day is like a stakes day at Keeneland. I'm looking forward to handicapping in "horse country".
Do you have a favorite type of wager? PICK FOURs
What would be your betting advice for a casual fan who wants to wager but may feel a bit intimidated? Keep it simple with across-the-board wagers (win, place, and show), and eventually move up to exacta boxes.
Keeneland fans range from some of the most experienced hardboots in the industry to casual fans who might be a bit intimidated by wagering. Any ideas yet how to talk to both audiences in a way that gives them the information they need? I always try to deliver my information in a way both audiences can relate so I am taken seriously, but having fun as well!
What is your favorite thing about being at the track/horse racing? The electric vibe you feel when you arrive at a racetrack is what I keep coming back for…the roar of the crowd when there’s a close finish; a beautiful, vivacious horse in the paddock; the familiar sounds of Call to the Post!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? Family? I grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago as an avid sports fan, and I love being around my friends and family. I have four siblings that I am extremely close to, and a loving mom as well. When I’m not watching replays of a race or handicapping past performances, I run with my dog, Lexi, practice power yoga, or relax with a fiction book.
What is your impression of Keeneland? Keeneland is the epitome of what horse racing should be all about…beautiful horses, enthusiastic fans, and a picturesque setting.
Who do you consider a mentor or role model? In horse racing, I look up to several people (too many to mention, but you know who you are). My biggest supporter has been my husband (trainer Hank Gensler). He’s taught me a lot about life on the backside, how to take care of horses, etc. That knowledge can only help a handicapper make better selections especially looking for trainer intent and strong appearances of horses in the paddock. In life, I look up to my mom. She has been through a lot in her life, but she always puts her children first, and she’s an excellent cook too!
How can someone follow your picks throughout the day? My top three selections for each race will be available at www.keeneland.com and live via my pre-race paddock reports. I will also provide insights from the paddock on Twitter @katiemikolay and @keenelandracing throughout each live race day.