Acacia Courtney: A Rising Name in Racing
Acacia Courtney: A Rising Name in Racing by Reinier Macatangay– Anyone updated on the on-air racing personalities these days knows the fantastic 23-year-old analyst Acacia Courtney, who currently works for Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN) and Gulfstream Park. It is hard for the average fan to miss her, as she also does interview work in the winner’s circle after important races.
Additionally, Ms. Courtney is a former Miss Connecticut (2014) and founder of the nonprofit Racing for Home, “which is dedicated to repurposing Off-Track Thoroughbreds for new careers after the racetrack” according to her HRRN biography. Plus, she is an “accomplished dancer” and graduated from Fordham University in New York City.
Wow. Acacia Courtney has led an amazing life so far.
Racing for Home led her to Suffolk Downs, where her love of racing began. Despite a busy schedule, she kindly offered a few thoughts on her past life and present status as a fashionable handicapper.
She reminisced on her reign as Miss Connecticut:
“I worked really hard to make the most of my time as Miss Connecticut, as each state winner holds the title for one year. During that time, I took a leave of absence from college and being Miss CT was my full-time job. It was on my fourth time competing that I won the title of Miss Connecticut 2014, and that allowed me to go on and compete in that year’s Miss America pageant. You can only compete at Miss America once, and it was exciting for me to be named a Top 15 semi-finalist. Being Miss Connecticut will always be a part of me, but … I’m most thankful for the doors that it opened and the networking opportunities.”
As for working as a racing analyst, she realizes this is a game where people are wrong often.
Preparation is a part of her routine regardless:
“The best compliment I’ve gotten was from a group of fans that had come to Gulfstream for the day, but didn’t know much about betting. They told me they had followed my selections throughout the day and had made money, and, most importantly, had a great time. I don’t expect to always be right, but I always want people to know I do my homework and will never come in unprepared.”
Courtney’s presence on the Gulfstream simulcast is relatively new. Her homebase remains around New York City though, and she likely knows a thing or two about Saratoga, a racetrack known as the “graveyard of champions.” Others might say Saratoga is more accurately the “graveyard of bad handicappers.”
Courtney gave at least one tip:
“When handicapping Saratoga I guess one of the most reliable angles would be a “horse for the course.” I really like to see a horse that has run at The Spa before, and has had success. Naturally there are outliers, but I think Saratoga is a great place to find betting value because smaller, local outfits might sometimes be overlooked.”
She believes in using speed figures as a tool to eliminate certain horses:
“For me, speed figures are most helpful when looking at how horses in a particular race match up against one another. Noticing if one horse’s last race, or last few races, earned a figure that was especially high or especially low can help differentiate in an evenly matched field. It’s also helpful to see pretty clearly if a horse is on the improve or on the decline. Often, being able to find a horse that you don’t want to use is just as helpful as finding one that you do.”
In addition to providing analysis, Courtney looks well-dressed and color coordinated in most pictures seen online. A Lady and the Track interview would not be complete without asking about fashion.
She views racetrack fashion as one way to attract newcomers to racing:
“It’s always fun to see people dressed up for the big race days, and I appreciate the emphasis on tradition. Fashion is a great way reach across borders and attract those who may not be interested in the hardcore handicapping side of racing. That being said, some of the best summer memories can be relaxing in the backyard at Saratoga. One of the good things about the racetrack is that there can be something for everyone, and I think that’s what we need to continue to emphasize.”
The last question involved asking about Courtney’s favorite active horse, and the answer did not disappoint:
“I have to say California Chrome. I followed his Triple Crown trail closely, and it was in my first year that I was really working in racing. I’m so glad that he’s continued to run this year, and it’s been fun to watch him continue to improve. Chromie is my homie.”
No argument there.
Acacia Courtney continues to gain fans, including this writer, and should continue to move forward as her racing analyst career progresses. For more of her thoughts, follow Courtney’s Twitter account. (I did, and it led to this interview.) Just follow horse racing in general, and she will be seen or heard in some form.