#FanFriday: Get to Know Keith McCalmont

The Life
Keith McCalmont and Tower of Texas. (Courtesy Keith McCalmont)

Keith McCalmont is the communications manager for Woodbine Entertainment Group. In addition to public relations duties and creating content for Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing, Keith also supports WEG’s other pillars of content including corporate, food and beverage, entertainment, and much more. You can find Keith on Twitter and Instagram @TripleDeadHeat.

My introduction to horse racing:

I grew up in Toronto and Brampton with Irish parents and spent a great deal of time with my dad watching football (Liverpool) and horse racing. We spent our Sundays together at Woodbine through the summer and I fell in love with the sport watching the stars of Sam-Son and Kinghaven Farm dominate.

What I do for a living:

Create content. Promote horse racing. Oversee all manner of press releases. Occasionally, I arrange photo shoots of cats with Eclipse Award winning horses. (See pic.) Safe to say my high school guidance counsellor fell well off the mark.

Woodbine social media star Gator (the cat) and Tepin. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

What I like about Thoroughbred racing:

The beauty of racing, for me, is watching a horse that so desperately wants to win. When they love their job, it’s obvious. I’ve been blessed to report on a number of horses that had a nose for the wire - - Wise Dan and Joshua Tree come to mind.

Best advice to someone considering ownership:

Buy a turf horse and come to Canada! We’ll have two turf courses here in the near future and the opportunities will be plentiful.

Favorite place at the racetrack in which to watch a race:

At Woodbine, watching a 1 ½-mile turf race from the finish line. Our turf course is on the outside, so the horses break from the gate right in front of you … it’s organized chaos and you really feel the power and thrill of a horse race.

Should the Breeders’ Cup rotate coast-to-coast or have a permanent home:

I mean, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t suggest Woodbine as the new permanent home.  At least for the BC turf races. As a racing fan, I prefer the rotation from coast to coast.

My top three favorite racetracks in order:

Woodbine (!!), Saratoga, Happy Valley

Most influential person in my career:

John Siscos, Director of Communications at Woodbine. He opened a door and continues to push me forward.

Other sports/teams I follow:

Liverpool

Keith and Megagray (Courtesy Keith McCalmont)

My favorite athletes of all time:

Robbie Fowler, Wollemi Pine and Tower of Texas

What book(s) I am reading or have recently read:

I’ve read every Ian Rankin novel.

Favorite magazines:

Esquire is great. If you haven’t read it, check out this Chris Jones piece which starts, “The horses knew first.”

Hobbies away from Thoroughbred Racing:

Reading, football, a patio with friends.

Favorite movies:

I watch the Irish film Once at least three times a year if not more. Goodfellas is a classic. Say Anything, Grosse Point Blank …

Favorite TV shows:

Roseanne. I had a huge crush on Darlene.

Favorite foods:

Anything spicy. The braised beef noodle soup at Anne’s Magic Kitchen is a must-try: https://www.eater.com/maps/best-toronto-restaurants/annes-magic-kitchen

Favorite vacation spot:

What’s a vacation?

A Woodbine sunrise. (Courtesy Keith McCalmont)

Favorite musician/band:

I can be pretty mopey. Lately listening to Daughter, Ben Howard and The War on Drugs.

Favorite actor:

John Cusack

Top 10 websites I visit daily:

The top three are:

https://www.theguardian.com/football

https://www.woodbineentertainment.com

https://www.youtube.com/

And then spots four through 10 are taken up by Twitter and wherever links send me.

Best racetrack food can be found at:

Roast beef sandwich at Woodbine … the jet fuel coffee at Sha Tin.

Accomplishment I am most proud of:

Becoming a published writer.

My philosophy on life:

I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

Things I collect:

Press badges. I’ve got credentials from most of the major tracks in North America hanging over my desk at home.

Favorite charities:

LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society

Pancreatic Cancer Society of Canada 

Favorite authors:

So many … Ian Rankin, Douglas Coupland, Zadie Smith to name a few.

Keith at Woodbine. (Courtesy Keith McCalmont)

Favorite animal other than a horse:

Cats. Specifically, my cat Kitty. And yes, Gator … you as well.

Favorite non-Thoroughbred racing sports event I have attended:

I was at Fenway for the brawl between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees in 2004, the year the Sox won their first World Series since 1918. On the same trip, I watched Liverpool play Celtic in Hartford.  I also sat through the longest rain delay in Toronto Blue Jays history at the old Exhibition Stadium.

Favorite all-time racehorse:

Just one? I can’t … here’s a few: All Along, Rachel Alexandra, Wollemi Pine, Tower of Texas, Lake Country, Bessarabian, Key To The Moon … I could do this all day.

Favorite racehorse currently competing:

Tower of Texas

Favorite international racing event:

Hong Kong International Races

Three ways to attract more fans to the sport:

Access, access, access. Since starting my career at Woodbine, I do my best to bring as many people (media, fans, soon-to-be fans) as possible to the backstretch, the winner’s circle, the walking ring … when someone has a chance to put hands on a horse for the first time, maybe feed them a mint, you can see the connection spark.

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