Stars of Yesterday: Looking Back at Best Louisiana Derby Winners
Matt Bernier, handicapper for the Daily Racing Form, is a Massachusetts resident who is one of the sport’s most enthusiastic young ambassadors. He’s a regular presence as an analyst on NBC Sports’ television coverage of the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup and is also a leading expert on handicapping tournaments. Matt previously worked in real estate and gradually became immersed in horse racing to the point where a career change was in order.
My introduction to horse racing occurred when ...
I heard that a horse called Funny Cide had won the Kentucky Derby; I wasn’t particularly interested in horse racing, but from that point on I followed the Triple Crown series. The real introduction to racing didn’t start until Rachel Alexandra’s Kentucky Oaks victory.
My top three favorite racetracks in order, and what I like about each one:
1) Saratoga: the closest major track to my hometown in Western Massachusetts and the first race track I ever went to.
2) Santa Anita: the best view in racing with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background.
3) Keeneland: horse country.
My big break came when:
I was the youngest qualifier at the 2013 National Handicapping Championship; a television show called “Horseplayers” contacted me, and that ultimately led to the Daily Racing Form contacting me.
What’s it like to work at the Daily Racing Form:
I handicap the best races from coast to coast every day – what’s there not to like?
Favorite interview I’ve ever conducted:
I had Nick Luck as a guest on one of my abbreviated shows last year. If you’ve ever been around Nick Luck, you know why he was my favorite interview.
Least favorite (most uncomfortable, perhaps) interview I’ve ever conducted:
Earlier this year: Dallas Stewart before the Fleur de Lis – Dallas was awesome, but it was hectic trying to procure him for the interview…and reporting/interviewing is still very new to me.
Favorite place at the racetrack to watch a race:
I’m at the point now where I’d prefer to watch the race from a monitor; it may sound weak, but I want to be able to see everything that happens during the race – and not from a pair of binoculars.
Should the Breeders’ Cup rotate from coast to coast or have a permanent home:
I’ve gone back and forth on the Breeders’ Cup. I’m at the point now where I believe it should have a permanent home, particularly on the West Coast. The East Coast has the Triple Crown in the spring, the West Coast should have the Breeders’ Cup in the fall (and the weather is MUCH better in Southern California in November).
The most influential person in my career is:
The number of people that have been instrumental in my career is too long to list; if that’s considered dodging the question, I’m guilty!
Best advice to someone considering ownership:
Don’t get involved if you’re in it for the money.
Accomplishment I am most proud of:
Donating a significant amount of money to thoroughbred aftercare following the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge and the 2016 NHC Charity Challenge.
Three words that define what Thoroughbred racing means to me:
What is your go-to or signature bet to make at the racetrack:
Win wager; try to limit the variables – the most straightforward wager that we have is the win bet.
My biggest gambling score ever at the racetrack was:
For my personal bank it was winning the 2014 Aqueduct Handicapping Championship: $40,000.
Favorite all-time racehorse:
Favorite racehorse currently competing:
Favorite international racing event:
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe
Three ways to attract more fans to the sport:
1) Coordinate post times among competing tracks
2) Lower takeout
3) More transparency
Other sports/teams I follow:
All New England professional teams: Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics, Bruins
My favorite athlete of all-time:
What book(s) I am reading or have recently read:
Exotic Betting by Steve Crist (for the third time)
Hobbies away from Thoroughbred racing:
Steak, chicken, turkey
Best racetrack food can be found at:
I have a very bland diet…I’m the wrong person to ask about track food.
Favorite fall/holiday cocktail:
Favorite summertime cocktail:
"The Shawshank Redemption," "Training Day," "Back to the Future"
Favorite TV shows:
"Game of Thrones," "Peaky Blinders"
Favorite vacation spot:
Not much of a music snob…whatever is on is on
If you could pick walk-up music that would play when your horse(s) entered a winner’s circle, what song would you pick:
Kool & the Gang, “Celebration”
Top 10 websites I visit daily:
I don’t have ten, but DRF.com, Timeformus.com, equibase.com, twitter.com, espn.com, google.com, YouTube.com.
What apps are on your phone:
Nothing fancy – the usual racing apps, fantasy sports apps, etc.
Favorite animal other than a horse:
Favorite top three fashion brands you prefer to wear:
Banana Republic, J.Crew, Under Armour
Favorite month of the year:
August (birthday, Saratoga/Del Mar)
I’d like to have dinner with the following three people inside racing:
For fear of leaving anyone out… pass!
I’d like to have dinner with the following three people outside of racing:
Pedro Martinez, Tom Brady, Paul Pierce
My philosophy on life:
Make fun of yourself