From a Maryland Jockey Club release
He was one of the industry’s top oddsmakers and the face of the Maryland simulcast signal for 11.5 years, so when Frank Carulli retired from the Maryland Jockey Club and moved to Las Vegas after the Pimlico Race Course spring meet concluded in June, it took two Towson University graduates to fill his position.
When the Laurel Park fall meet begins Thursday afternoon, Keith Feustle (class of 1989), will take over Carulli’s morning line duties, while 2013 graduate Gabby Gaudet becomes the racing analyst.
“Frank is a tough act to follow, no doubt about it,” Feustle said. “The time and effort he put into it was second to none. Day in, day out, he was the best linemaker in the country. He wanted to be perfect across the board, not just picking the correct morning line favorite. Hopefully I can be nearly as good as Frank.”
Feustle, an Equibase chart caller at the Maryland tracks since 1992, has been the oddsmaker at Colonial Downs the last decade but the 45-year-old caught the racing bug even before attending North Carroll High School in the early 1980’s.
“I caught the bug early. I started going to the track regularly when I was 13-14 years old. We used to go to Pimlico and Timonium as a family,” Feustle said. “I liked to bet. My dad would make them for me. I liked to handicap and learned to read the (Daily Racing) Form at a young age. I had an old baseball coach, who was a retired minor leaguer, and we would look at the Form during practice. He would ask who I liked at Bowie in the fifth and I would give him my two cents.”
Feustle frequented the press box on a consistent basis with his grandfather Cecil Coffman, a longtime mutuel teller in the Maryland press boxes and retired jockey who was also an exercise rider for Native Dancer at Sagamore Farm, where he met Baltimore Sun racing writers Dale Austin and Marty McGee.
“My senior year of college, Marty recommended me for a position with Figs Form, an up and coming handicapping publication looking to rival the Daily Racing Form,” added Feustle. “I jumped on the opportunity and while it didn’t last long, it led to a job with The Racing Times, where I was a handicapper.”
After The Racing Times folded, he returned to his hometown and began working at Equibase, the official source for horse racing results and statistics. In recent years, he has been selected to call charts for such major events as the Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup day.
“It is nice to be thought of in that way,” said Feustle. “We have some quality chart callers in the company, including my partner here at Pimlico and Laurel, Bill Brasaemle. It is fun to get a chance to see the other tracks but also a lot of work. It is an honor but a lot of pressure because the public demands a quality product.”
As for the pressure of replacing Carulli, who became one of the best oddsmakers in the business with his morning line favorite being the actual betting choice more than 70% of the time, including 11 of his 12 Preakness Stakes (G1) selections, Feustle strives to be just as reliable.
“I want to be consistent,” Feustle said. “You are going to get fooled sometimes with money coming in on horses some days. The tough thing about Maryland now is that with the influx of the purse money from slots we are going to have better trainers bringing horses to town. In some races we are going to have a $20,000 open 6-furlong claimer with runners saddled by King Leatherbury, Benny Perkins, Dale Capuano and Jamie Ness. You are talking about high percentage trainers top to bottom which is going to make for a quality race but also make it tough to establish the line. Frank did not let ego get in the way. He would check with me sometimes to see if he was seeing it the right way. When the time comes, I will not have any problem calling Frank in Vegas to ask for his opinion.”
Gaudet was selected as Carulli’s on-air replacement in April after beating out three other finalists in a contest held at Laurel Park in late March. The 22-year-old worked with Carulli on weekends during the Pimlico meeting, gaining valuable experience.
“Frank really taught me about handicapping,” said Gaudet, a graduate of St. Mary’s High School in Annapolis. “He taught me to look for certain patterns from trainers and jockeys and to use DRF Formulator to my advantage when trying to pick winners. He provided a tremendous amount of guidance. My handicapping went to another level because of him.”
Gaudet, the daughter of longtime Maryland conditioners Eddie and Linda Gaudet, obtained additional education this summer as a vacation fill-in at HRTV in mid-August.
“I got a chance to work with Jon White, Brad Free and Scott Hazelton. It was a tremendous experience, talking about horse racing in conversation,” added Gaudet. “The staff was absolutely phenomenal and provided great feedback. Sometimes I look back at the tapes from the beginning of the spring meet and go ‘Whoa!’ I have come a long way since that audition in March. I think being alone on camera will be easier. Sometimes it can be difficult to listen to another person when you are trying to construct your own thoughts. I am also really excited about handicapping from the paddock. We will probably have a lot of first-time starters, so there is tremendous value in being there to see what they look like. What Maggie (Wolfendale) does in New York is popular and while I will not be going into as much depth because our roles are different, if I see something that stands out, I am going to say it and Tweet it (@Gabby_Gaudet_).”
Gaudet’s role will include handicapping between races, with the selections available on Twitter, writing a website blog and producing a “Getting To Know” video blog on the Maryland Jockey Club’s YouTube page for the simulcast signal.
“I am going to provide bits and pieces that you will not get in the press releases,” said Gaudet. “It will be a chance to get to know the many hard workers at the track and the characters that come out here every day for years. Instead of going straight to King Leatherbury about Ben’s Cat, why not talk to the groom, who has spent countless hours with him?”
Gaudet and Feustle will share co-hosting duties on the “Today At The Races” pre-race show with track announcer Dave Rodman. Feustle will be on-air Wednesday and Friday, with Gaudet sharing the set with Rodman before the Thursday and Saturday cards.