photo

(Megan Devine)

A Question & Answer With Thoroughbred Industry’s On-Air Personality Megan Divine:

How did you get into the industry?

I always loved horses but I didn’t get into the racing part, seriously, until I was in college. I would go to the NY tracks with my father and hang out in the backyard areas. I don’t come from a horse or horse racing family, so they were in it for the day at the races (read: booze and BBQ) and I was excited to see the horses in the paddock and at the finish line. I chose to attend the University of Louisville’s Equine Industry Program to learn and become more involved in the industry… and did just that! I worked at sales, galloped horses for a time at Blackwood Stables and worked the media side for NBC Sports and TVG. That’s what started my career as an on-air personality/handicapper. I have been the host or reporter at Turfway Park, Ellis Park, Kentucky Downs, Santa Anita, Golden Gate Fields, and have travelled with America’s Best Racing and Sky Racing World to report at Woodbine, Keeneland and Royal Randwick in Sydney, Australia. Usually, I work with TVG from our Los Angeles studios, but now I broadcast from my Kentucky farmhouse.

 
What age did you start riding?
I started riding at 7 years old. We could never afford my own horse, so I paid for lessons by mucking stalls and working at the stables. I was a catch rider for a time, which is essentially a jockey for show horses. Owners would use me to show their horses and get them more points or value.  Eventually I began to teach lessons to children and adults, worked with a hippotherapy program (therapeutic riding for children and adults with autism) and showed horses at top level events like the Hampton Classic. When I got to college, I joined the Equestrian Teams, both the jumping and western teams, where I served as Captain for two years and President of the UofL Equine Industry Program’s Riding & Racing Club. Outside of college, I rode competitively in the area with Elaine Schott and was selected as a Top 15 rider in the National Finals of the United States Hunter Jumper Association’s Emerging Athletes Program, essentially a talent scout program to find the future riders for the US Equestrian Team.
Greatest memory?
My favorite race was hands down American Pharoah in the Belmont Stakes. The entire giant grandstand of Belmont Park was absolutely shaking. Getting to be around that horse for his entire 3 year old campaign, with my work with NBC Sports, was a really special experience.
 
What do you see next in your career?
I still do some freelance work as an on-air personality and handicapper for TVG and co-host a weekly podcast called the Horse Racing Happy Hour (you can find it wherever you get your podcasts). I hope to get to expand my on-air role with additional tracks and positions. I really miss the on-track reporting and interviewing that I did at Santa Anita Park. I love the horses, first and foremost, and I miss being around them firsthand. This industry is full of amazing characters and stories, and I hope to get back to a position where I can help tell those. I also love the handicapping action! I consider myself a pretty astute analyst and can hang with the best of the degenerates. For the past few years, I’ve spent a good deal of time in Las Vegas and in the high-roller suites of racetracks. I really enjoy bringing new people into racing and ‘capping with our existing players. In the near future, I’d really like to do on-horse reporting. Donna Brothers has been a mentor of mine for a number of years and I hope to be able to step into her stirrups one day.
 
How can we promote gender equality?
It’s funny because there are actually many more women than men in the show jumping world that I come from. And while there are plenty of women on the racetrack, this industry does seem to be predominantly male. But women have an incredible connection with the horse. And we’re detail oriented. That’s what this game is about. It’s about the passion for the animal and attention to details. Given some time spent learning the animal and the form, this game can be accessible, and so fun, to any person of any age or gender. There’s also something to be said for the multi-faceted entertainment value of horse racing. There are some football fans that are more into the tailgating than the actual football game. The same could be said for racing. The day out at the races, the fashion, the food and drinks is just as enjoyable if you’re not into the gambling side of the industry. I do think we could do a better job of highlighting women and minorities in this industry so that people can see the types of jobs or positions that exist and know just how hard people in racing work. Dont be mistaken, this is not an easy industry. You have to love it with every fiber of your being. There aren’t many days off, you work weekends and holidays, but we the horse industry do it because we love our horses – so much.
 
How can we make LTS a place to promote & enhance all persons interested in the industry?
I think having events for people to meet, inviting guests in the industry from all walks of life will be really great for the sport. In any industry, networking and storytelling are so important and I think LTS provides a physical location for people to do just that.
 
What can we do to make it more inclusive, fun & help promote/enhance the industry?
Provide opportunities for people to learn about LTS and most importantly, horse racing. This sport runs in the blood of all Kentuckians and LTS can be the place where people take their casual fondness for the sport to the next level. Different levels of membership are crucial for inclusivity. Horse racing often gets a bad rap for being made up of only the elite or upper echelon of people. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. There are so many hardworking people that come from humble beginnings that are or want to be involved in racing. At the end of the day, it’s all about the passion for the horse and the sport of racing. Anything that LTS does to promote and preserve that passion in the great city of Louisville will be a tremendous asset to our industry.