Handicapper Blog

Posted by Brian Skirka on Wednesday, May 27, 2009 10:36 AM


Hello and welcome to Part One of the first-ever posting of the NEW Monmouth Park Blog.  My name is Brian Skirka (username MP_Blogger), and I’m really excited to get this chance to talk racing with you and share in the excitement of what promises to be another great season here at the Shore’s Greatest Stretch – I’m looking forward to making some new friends along the way, too.  Let’s jump right into it.  For my first posting, I thought it would be fun for me, Brian Skirka, to interview myself, MP_Blogger, to answer some questions about the blog.  Later in the week, we’ll dive into the racing action. 


BRIAN SKIRKA: Welcome MP_Blogger.  Why don’t you tell us a little something about yourself, and how you got into the sport of Thoroughbred horse racing?


MP_BLOGGER: Well, I was actually introduced to horse racing right here at Monmouth Park by my uncle.  Every August he comes up from Florida for the Haskell, and for as long as I can remember, I tagged along.  Until I was 18, that was the only day of the year I paid attention to horse racing.  Once I turned 18, however, I started coming to Monmouth more and more, began learning more and more about the sport, until that day when racing became a passion.  Now I’m two months away from my 24th birthday, beginning my fourth year working at the track, and writing the Monmouth Park Blog.  As for a little something about me – I enjoy Seinfeld re-runs, Buffalo Chicken, salt-water fishing, golf, baseball and just about everything else associated with the months June-September.


BRIAN SKIRKA: Tell the fans what they should expect when they log-on to monmouthpark.com to read the blog. 


MP_BLOGGER: The plan is to have two postings a week – one late in the afternoon on Thursday and one late in the afternoon on SundayThursday’s blog will, among other things, preview the races and events taking place over the weekend, and Sunday’s blog will recap what happened and why it happened, and try to predict what happens next.


BRIAN SKIRKA: So this is mainly just a handicapping blog?


MP_BLOGGER:  No.  My goal is to make this as entertaining as possible to as many people as possible.  The blog will have two parts.  The first will be casual and fun.  It will be less about specific horses or races, and more about horse racing in general.  Top-ten lists, how-to’s and some old-fashioned, funny stories are just some of the things you’ll find in this section.  My goal for this part of the blog is to entertain – to make this something that all fans want to read.  I believe this can become one of those “Hey, did you read what that guy said on the blog today” sort of things.  Very funny, very entertaining, but also informative and helpful.  Even if you’re not an experienced horseplayer, you will definitely enjoy this first section.


BRIAN SKIRKA: And the second part of the blog?


MP_BLOGGER:  That’s where the handicapping will be done, but again, there will be something for everyone.  I’m not going to use big words and fancy-sounding racing vernacular that may scare away those who are novices.  I want to help the experienced horseplayers, by giving them up-to-the-second, behind-the-scenes insights, while maintaining a fun, interesting, easy-to-understand style that will help inform beginners and make them want to come to the track more often.  Basically, I want this blog to sound like what I would say if somebody stopped me in the grandstand and asked me a question – very conversational, but also helpful and informative.  What’s awesome about the handicapping section too, is that I’ll be working with Monmouth Park’s expert handicapper, Brad Thomas.  Brad is one of the best handicappers in the country and his knowledge about the business is second to none.  His expertise is invaluable and will add a lot to this part of the blog. 


BRIAN SKIRKA: So basically, for purposes of this blog, fans will log-on to monmouthpark.com two days a week, read what you and Brad write, and that’s it?


MP_BLOGGER: Where’s the fun in that?  As I said before, there will be two blog entries a week – that leaves the other five days for the fans to get involved.  As part of the Monmouth Park blog, anybody can post a comment.  My goal is to have all fans of the blog interacting with me and each other using those comments – so that even on a Wednesday when no new blog is scheduled to be posted, discussions can be taking place.  If anyone has a question about what was written in that week’s blog, or about anything related to horse racing, he or she can post it as a comment and I will answer it during the blog’s “off days.”  I look forward to making this a fun, interactive experience for everyone – including me – and I promise to do anything and everything to help fans better understand and enjoy this great game. 


BRIAN SKIRKA: How can you be an objective writer of “everything Monmouth Park” if you work there?


MP_BLOGGER: That’s a good question Brian, you must be a journalism major or something.  Let’s be honest, Monmouth Park does pay my salary – I obviously can’t rip the place, or the blog won’t last too long, and neither will I.  However, I will be as objective as possible and give you my honest opinions.  One of my biggest pet peeves is people side-stepping questions and not giving honest answers – so that kind of stuff won’t appear here.  Since I do work at the track, it gives me a unique advantage in writing, since I get to see, and be a part of, all the behind-the-scenes work.


BRIAN SKIRKA: Well it sounds like you have a lot of work in front of you to make this blog a success.  Good luck!!  Right now we need to take a short break.  We’ll be back after these words. 


**Please click on Part Two to find out more about MP_Blogger.**