Photo: Daily Funnies by Mel
’s, and Minnesota’s very own, Angela Hermann
possesses an unparalleled passion for racing which is very prevalent in the
work that she does previewing races from the paddock of the Midwest oval. Just
completing her first meet as the analyst at Hawthorne Race Course
, I was very
impressed with her knowledge of the sport as she gave the fans useful insight
from the Cicero paddock. I spent a little time with Angela this week to see how
we all could get to know her a little better.
Growing up in Apple Valley, Minnesota (home of the world
famous Minnesota Zoo
), Angela was without the pedigree similar to those who
have an inside connection to the sport. Her interest in racing began in 1998
during Real Quiet’s Triple Crown run
. After that, she was hooked. During the
many summers after that she would make her race predictions for the day using
the Star Tribune (local newspaper) and watch the replay shows to see if she
won. (In a bit of a coincidence I did the EXACT SAME THING as a kid…) Her
passion for horses did not wane over the years as most of the people close to
her had expected.
Angela then really became connected to horses via the many
roles she has held at Canterbury since 2004. Desiring a job at Canterbury from
the moment she was able to legally drive, she worked her way up the ranks at
the track after serving as a Clubhouse Usher, a member of Guest Services, a
member of Group Sales, as well as in the Track Information department before
landing where she is today as the paddock analyst. Also during that time she learned valuable
information about the sport while working in the racing office for a track in
Columbus, NE (“lovely Ag Park”)!
So it became apparent to me that these roles and this
experience has given Angela the ability to provide quite insightful analysis
before the races start. In fact, I tracked her picks for a few races over a few
days and you know what? She gives out quite a few winners! I asked her about
her observations and what she looks for in the paddock when selecting horses. “I
look more towards the younger horses. It’s easier to tell when a younger horse
is having a good or bad day versus the older veterans who know what is about to
happen. I like horses that are eager and antsy, but not nervous; though some
can be misleading. As long as the horse isn’t bucking the jockey into a bush…” In
terms of her handicapping, she claims to be someone who is self-taught as she
has developed her own handicapping style. What she looks for most is trainer
intent and more pace versus class. Maybe I should try that…
But Angela’s passion for the sport goes well beyond just a
few minutes on TV . She is also very much a fan advocate; wishing to get more
people involved and interested in racing. “I’ve been there. I’ve been the
person that can’t read a racing form. However I like to give a better
perspective in terms of what people are looking for or wondering about. I enjoy
turning the DRF into ABC’s and there are many different aspects of racing that
can be taught and learned.” Angela does feel that she has an atypical face
associated with racing (a dress versus a cigar). She does have the ability to answer
typical racing questions and feels that anyone can enjoy the sport with a
little time and dedication! She classifies herself as a “bridge between the
everyday fan and an expert.” Sweet!
So in typical Dark Horse fashion, this blog can’t be all serious,
right? I asked Angela about some of her most funny and embarrassing moments in
racing. Well, the funny moment went viral on YouTube as a North Dakota-bred (that
figures, geez) named RC Riptide ate her notes right out of her hand! See video below.
Her most embarrassing moment (other than some drunk guy ripping the microphone
right out of her hand) came during a hot, summer evening where she passed out
from being overheated! After making several trips back and forth from the
paddock to the winners circle for race previews and post-race interviews, even
after drinking multiple bottles of water, she literally passed out on camera! I
still don’t think that’s as bad as forgetting who you write for while on camera
…but I digress.
So I was curious to know Angela thought about what
Canterbury offers that most fans wouldn’t know about. She told me that
virtually every horse in the area runs there! She states that the track offers
a great atmosphere, a perfect setting, a safe surface for the horses, a new
tote board, a new video board in the paddock, and better racing with the new
increased purses and full stables on the backside! Whoa.
And recently coming from Chicago myself, I wanted to know
her impressions of Hawthorne and Chicago. For Angela, the weather was the
biggest challenge for her at the track! Customarily handicapping racing for
summertime, “it was extra hard work handicapping with frozen tracks, wet
tracks, and the lack of turf racing in the spring in Chicago.” Prior to the
meet she checked past charts but quickly learned how the track bias changed
with the winter (and summarily tossed out those old charts). Yep, that sounds like a typical Chicago winter
and spring to me!
Best part of the job: When people win and when
people want to come back to the track; trying to help people pick winners! Also
receiving thanks from people for having a great time at the track.
Worst part of the job: When the season ends…
Favorite horse at Canterbury: Minnesota-bred
filly Keewatin Ice
Favorite horse ever: Real Quiet
Favorite jockeys: Laffit Pincay and Gary Stevens
Favorite trainers: Graham Motion and Al Stall,
Favorite 80’s song: Michael Jackson’s Thriller!
Favorite racing moment at Canterbury #1: Quiet Queen’s 30-1 victory in the Lady Canterbury race on Claiming Crown day.
Favorite racing moment at Canterbury #2: Personally
escorting Rafael Bejerano through the track as he just arrived from Woodbine
(after winning a Grade 1 stake) with less than 30 minutes to post for his mount
in the 2008 Claiming Crown Jewel!
Interests outside of racing: Sports (she is a
huge sports fan) - especially THE VIKINGS (SKOL!), horseback riding, and
spending time with her family. In fact, Angela said, “if you are a sports fan,
then you have to be a fan of racing!” I agree!
As far as future goals and aspirations go for Angela, she
would like to work the California circuit someday. With some extended family
there, she has always adored the area. If she is at all able to blend
California and horse racing, that would be the ultimate dream for her. However,
she is really enjoying what she is doing now
and does not take anything for
granted. I think that is very obvious and I think she has a very bright future
in front of her.
Finally she has some advice for new or aspiring analysts. “Have
passion for the sport. You can never know enough about it; keep your ears open
as something insignificant now can be huge down the road. In terms of
handicapping, there are many different theories but everybody is right at some
It is clear to me that Angela has the drive and passion to
help carry the sport of horse racing into the future. Her knowledge of
handicapping and horses is amazing to me and I really admire her desire to
educate the casual fan and embody the love of the sport into people for
generations to come. For my fellow Minnesotan, I predict nothing but great