Women Horseplayers Stand Out at Featured Equestricon Seminar

Women Horseplayers Stand Out at Featured Equestricon Seminar

Nicolle Neulist

The one factor that has always separated horse betting from any other form of wagering is the degree to which the person betting can make an informed opinion based on research. The bettor doesn’t need a college degree, they don’t even need to be a math whiz — being a successful horseplayer is all about being able to gather and decipher relevant information for a variety of different races. 

“Handicapping and horse racing has room for everybody,” said Megan Devine, Santa Anita’s paddock analyst and TV host. “It doesn’t matter if this is your first time at the races, handicapping, or you’ve been doing it all of your life.”

Devine, an equestrian who got her start in racing while covering the sport as part of the NBC Sports production team, will moderate Equestricon’s “Leading Women Horseplayers” seminar at Equestricon on Tuesday, August 15.  The panel gives attendees the opportunity to learn firsthand from women who have enjoyed success in a range of settings — from public handicapping to high-stakes handicapping tournaments. 

In addition to Devine, the panel features The Tournament Edge co-founder Barbara Bowley, Gulfstream Park, Laurel Park, and Pimlico Racecourse analyst Gabby Gaudet, OptixEQ partner Emily Gullikson, and Horseplayers Association of North America treasurer Theresia Muller. The seminar is designed to not only inform and educate, but to inspire women to participate more actively in the realm of handicapping. 

Women handicappers are not a monolithic group, and the seminar highlights that. The panel features horseplayers with expertise in everyday live-money wagering, as well as structured contest play. Each panelist followed a different path to becoming a horseplayer, and has crafted their own style for analyzing races. This variance in perspectives makes the panel even more valuable.  

“Everyone has their own unique style,” Devine said. “I think it’s fascinating, and it only helps if you confer, or listen to others and what their style is. It really just makes you that much stronger.”

Moderator Megan Devine (right) pictured with panelist and fellow TV analyst and handicapper Gabby Gaudet.  Photo Courtesy: Eclipse Sportswire/Jesse Caris/Breeders' Cup

Moderator Megan Devine (right) pictured with panelist and fellow TV analyst and handicapper Gabby Gaudet.

Photo Courtesy: Eclipse Sportswire/Jesse Caris/Breeders' Cup

Horse betting continues to be male-dominated sphere — there’s no doubt about that. However, for Barbara Bowley, there’s nothing intrinsic about handicapping that makes men better suited to it. Rather, she encourages people to question their preconceived notions that anyone has a greater predisposition to being a horseplayer than the next person. 

“I look at this from a social perspective, and I think that racing needs to, as well,” Bowleysaid. “There’s more of a bias that men are better at numbers. There’s no reason why that should be. There are very basic kinds of math that we’re dealing with, in terms of probability. Anybody with some patience and some training can do it. What handicapping is really about is decision making.”

Theresia Muller underscores that engaging women with handicapping not only introduces more individual people to a fulfilling hobby, but also benefits the whole game long-term. 

“I think that racing should do more to cultivate new horseplayers,” noted Muller.  “A lot of emphasis is on new fans, which is great, but we need to make an effort to transition people from being a fan to being a horseplayer.”  

At its core, the Leading Women Horseplayers seminar is about visibility, representation, and showing people that anyone can succeed in handicapping, regardless of gender.

“I think it’s important for people to realize that there are women that are doing this same job that men are, and that there are women involved in the industry,” said Emily Gullikson, who is also scheduled to appear on the “Advanced Handicapping Tools & Products” seminar which is also scheduled for Tuesday at Equestricon. 

Don’t miss your chance to hear and learn from some of the best in the business at Equestricon’s Leading Women Horseplayers seminar: Tuesday, August 15 from 1:00pm-3:00pm, in Meeting Room 2-B. 

As a bonus, all attendees who purchase a “Panel Pass” to attend seminars like this one will also get a free one year membership to the NTRA/NHC Tour ($50 value) and automatic entry into an Equestricon-exclusive NHC Qualifier on Saturday, August 26 ($150-$200 value). 

Those free perks alone are nearly double the $125 cost of a “Panel Pass”, which grants attendees full access to the largest lineup of panels ever assembled in racing history — over two days (Monday and Tuesday) at the Saratoga Springs City Center, “Panel Pass” holders will be able to choose from 24 panels covering everything from racing photography or aftercare to media and marketing to getting a first job in racing to ownership and/or breeding (click here for the full schedule).