By Tom Pedulla, America’s Best Racing
When New England Patriots Pro Bowl defensive lineman Vince Wilfork is not chasing quarterbacks and running backs during the NFL regular season, he enjoys spending time at the racetrack during the off-season. The native of Boynton Beach, Fla., excelled at the University of Miami. Wilfork joined the Patriots as a first-round draft choice and helped the perennial power to a victory in Super Bowl XXXIX. The five-time Pro Bowler is not hard to spot at 6-2, 325 pounds and Tom Pedulla of America’s Best Racing caught up to him at Gulfstream Park this spring:
Q: How long have you been interested in racing?
A: Since the year Big Brown went out and did what he did (2008). It really caught a lot of people’s attention. Ever since that day I became a real big racing fan. I try to get to Gulfstream and the Derby every year. I try to find any race I can get to. It’s a great sport.
Q: How many NFL players are racing fans?
A: There are a lot of guys in my locker room and around the league who are involved in racing. A lot of people don’t know that. We have to get out and show our faces at these tracks and these tracks have to use the celebrities. It has to go hand in hand for the sport to get back to where it used to be.
Q: What do you see as the future of the sport?
A: At one point, this was one of the top sports around, but this industry has been hurting for a long time. You have the horses. We’ve just got to get people to the tracks.
VINCE WILFORK AT WORK
Q: Why does racing appeal to you?
A: Just seeing a big animal like this do things you cannot believe. They come in all shapes and sizes and the way they run is unbelievable.
Q: Are you much of a bettor?
A: Here and there. I like the sport of it. I have my favorites here and there.
Q: Do you have any handicapping skills?
A: I read the Daily Racing Form like a playbook. I get the Blood-Horse. It’s been good to me and, hopefully, it will continue to be good to me.