“Congratulations, Gabby. You got the job.” Those were really the only words that I could recall after the phone call I received in late March from Mike Gathagan, telling me I would replace Frank Carulli as the Maryland Jockey Club’s next Racing Analyst.
I paused for a few minutes and let the news sink in. I couldn’t repress the ear-to-ear smile that fought its way through to my face. A few seconds later, a victory dance that closely resembled Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk through my hallway and kitchen was another thing I couldn’t repress.
The days since have flown by and my life has seemingly dwindled down to a competition of horse racing analyst versus college student “to-dos”:
Pick out horses. Pick up my graduation gown.
Study the Past Performance charts. Study for my exams.
Write notes on my picks for each race. Write my final paper.
Meet with the press for an interview. Meet with my group for our final project.
Look up race replays. Look at class notes.
Whew. Is it safe to breathe yet? Not quite.
As we all know, Preakness fever is in the air. Crunch time. Pimlico is engulfed with people hoping to witness the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. The sound of punching keys and copy machines fill the press box. The sight of Preakness contenders galloping across Old Hilltop fill the local papers. The smell of the racetrack, reminds me of a place I’ve been coming to since I was two feet tall next to my mom and dad. This year is different though, in a good way.
My favorite moment thus far — Landing a spot on the cover of Monday’s Baltimore Sun. My most interesting moment — getting a surprise visit from the Principal of my elementary school, Mrs. Reider. She was my favorite. My most emotional moment — my dad, Eddie Gaudet, getting teary-eyed when telling me how proud he is. The worst moment — not picking my sister’s horse to win (twice) and the horse winning both times.
Although I still have a way to go with both on air and handicapping skills, I’m taking notes and learning fast. Here’s what I have so far:
Trust your gut, no matter what anyone says.
Don’t bet against family.
Check the weather before looking at turf races. I’ve already lost about six hours of my life handicapping turf races, only to wake up to a downpour and the infamous e-mail, “We’re off the turf!”
Don’t say “um,” “yeah” or “I think.”
Don’t talk too fast.
Don’t talk too slow.
Look at the camera.
These are all things I’ve learned not only from experience, but also from the helpful influx of text messages I’ve received right after I’m on air from friends and family; they keep me on my toes.
So, here’s to new beginnings and closing chapters.