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The Notebook March 27, 2014

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Out of the Gate with ... Pat Cummings

Pat Cummings is the director of racing information for Trakus and also serves as the editor of DubaiRaceNight.com, a comprehensive website covering racing in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. Cummings has covered the Dubai World Cup on site each year since 2007. He provides selections for the entire season of racing in the United Arab Emirates and full-card analysis for all racing at Meydan. A member of the Turf Publicists of America, Cummings earned his MBA from Baylor University in Texas and completed his undergraduate studies at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.

Name: Pat Cummings

What I do for a living: Business manager and director of racing information to Trakus. Editor of DubaiRaceNight.com

What’s the biggest contribution Trakus has made to horse racing? Aside from all the great data that our tracking yields and continues to develop, Trakus has made it so much easier to find your horse in running, extending the pleasure of watching the race and being able to identify what is actually happening.

How and when I was introduced to Thoroughbred racing: My parents got cable television in Philadelphia in the late 1980s, which aired the races from Philadelphia Park. For whatever reason, I was hooked.

My favorite racetrack: Saratoga

My favorite Thoroughbred racing event: A warm, late spring/early summer night in the beer garden at Happy Valley in Hong Kong.

Other sports/teams I follow: Philadelphia Phillies

What I would like to see more of in Thoroughbred racing: Transparency and information, both of which breed greater market participation and confidence.

What I would like to see less of in Thoroughbred racing: Constant negativity. Don’t get me wrong, we must be critical of ourselves and our sport to move forward, but the negative drone drains energy that could be used for more productive purposes.

Three words that define what Thoroughbred racing means to me: Thrilling, invigorating, everything.

First Thoroughbred track I ever attended was: Philadelphia Park (Parx)

What’s the most important advice you’d give a first-time visitor to the Dubai World Cup: Walk around and soak in the atmosphere, from the apron views section, into the public enclosure, down by the parade ring. It’s like the United Nations of horse racing.

Best restaurant in Dubai: Too many to name.

Where does the racing world go to play in Dubai? After any Carnival meeting in Dubai, The Qube at the top of the stretch is the place to unwind.

Coolest international trainer? Mike de Kock

What have you seen in Dubai racing that you’d like to see in American racing? More people taking chances. Racing in Dubai is so exciting because connections aren’t afraid to lose. This yields a remarkably competitive product. Racing gets even more compelling when horses ship out of what they know and take a shot.

Do you think that the synthetic Tapeta surface at Meydan helps or hinders American horses? I’m convinced horses are individuals, and some will run on anything, some are wildly particular. There have been 53 starters in the four runnings of the World Cup at Meydan, and only four winners, one was American-trained. The strike rate is far from as terrible as it is perceived.

What are the biggest differences between the on-track experience in Dubai v. America? No betting on course in Dubai, but the Dubai Racing Club offers free-to-enter competitions (pick six, tricasts) which keep patrons very involved in the action.

Which American racing event is most like the Dubai World Cup? The fashion and party of the Kentucky Derby with the racing equivalent of the Breeders’ Cup.

My personal best moment in the sport of Thoroughbred Racing: Hitting the 2010 Kentucky Derby superfecta with a group of friends in a wedding party, on the day of the wedding.

Favorite All-time Thoroughbred: Make Music for Me (fourth in the 2010 Kentucky Derby). Ha!

Best racetrack food can be found at: Keeneland

My favorite American-based jockey: Aaron Gryder

My favorite American-based trainer: Graham Motion 

My heroes: My parents and brother for instilling the confidence in me to chase my dreams.

Person in Thoroughbred Racing I’d like to have dinner with: Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Favorite quote or motto: “Press on, regardless” – Jack Bogle, founder of Vanguard.

Favorite non-Thoroughbred racing sports event I have attended: The Philadelphia Phillies home opener in 2009 when they raised their World Series banner.

Favorite vacation spot: Ireland, especially the west.

Favorite city: Singapore

Favorite movie about horse racing: “Let It Ride”

Alma Mater: Dickinson College (BA), Baylor University (MBA)

Best book I recently read: “The Signal and the Noise” by Nate Silver

Twitter handle: @DubaiRaceNight

People I follow on Twitter: Last I checked, it was almost 800 of them.

No. 1 Bucket-List item: If you live your dream, who needs a bucket list?

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