Professional tweeter Quigley knows his horses

Professional tweeter Quigley knows his horses

July 26, 2016 3:01 AM
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Before becoming an official Twitter handle to provide horse-racing information to the public, “Quigley’s Corner” was the term used to describe the spot in the paddock where Tom Quigley positioned himself each day to observe horses preparing to run an upcoming race.

Quigley has become the real-time eyes and ears for some horse bettors. He’s actually paid by three southern California tracks – Del Mar (near San Diego), Santa Anita and Los Alamitos (both in the Los Angeles area) – to tweet his behind-the-scenes opinions.

“Professional tweeter” is how Quigley, whose insights can be found @Quigleys_Corner on Twitter, described his role.

“I tweet out who I like from a physicality standpoint,” said Quigley, who built a solid reputation as founder of “The HorsePlayer Magazine,” which he published for about two decades, along with winning $125,000 in a handicapping contest several years ago at Gulfstream Park in Florida.

What Quigley tries to do is eliminate any horses that look “sore” or as if they’re not ready to run that day for whatever reason. He applies the theory “if they can’t walk, they can’t run,” and relays those observations to his 6,500-plus followers.

Quigley admits, “It’s not an absolute science,” but it is a way to help bettors narrow the field and throw out some horses that simply don’t look ready to compete.

As far as the tracks are concerned, this perceived insider-type analysis can only help increase the betting handle, which is the whole objective in a pari-mutuel wagering system.

For Quigley, 56, it is part of a unique path he’s taken to turn his hobby into a career. Former Las Vegas oddsmaker Roxy Roxborough used to joke about Quigley’s ability to “reinvent” himself.

“That’s kind of what my career’s been all about,” Quigley said. “It’s just adapting.”

Besides getting paid to write messages in 140 characters or less, Quigley is also the VIP player concierge for Santa Anita, which recently completed its winter-spring meet.

The position is similar to that of a casino host. Quigley was the one who presented the idea to Santa Anita. The track has since built a high-rollers suite for his clients.

“It’s just kind of copying the Vegas model,” he said. “The more we can mimic Las Vegas, the better we’ll be.”

Quigley is responsible for recruiting big bettors from around the country. The suite includes food, alcohol and, of course, attractive waitresses.

Considering the way interest in horse racing has fallen off, it’s surprising more tracks haven’t tried this to attract bettors. Quigley said he’s aware of only two other tracks (Del Mar and Keeneland in Lexington, Ky.) that employ similar VIP hosts.

Quigley was the logical choice for such a position because of his many connections, including some of the big players who used to subscribe to his magazine. He also has a reciprocal deal with some Las Vegas sportsbook directors who send him clients and vice versa.

“He always invites horseplayers to chat with him in the paddock,” said Robert Mann, an ardent horseplayer and occasional contributor to GamingToday. “He answers everyone’s questions thoughtfully. He understands the sport’s strengths and weaknesses and does an insightful job of explaining the nuances of handicapping in person, on the radio, or on television.”

Meanwhile, the last of Quigley’s three-part gig is hosting a weekly handicapping seminar during the Santa Anita season that is broadcast on the simulcast feed.

This passion for horses goes back to when he was 13 years old in Chicago and his best friend’s dad took them to the races at Arlington Park one day.

“I just fell in love with the sport,” Quigley said. “What intrigued me the most in the beginning was just the raw beauty of the horse and all the pageantry. The gambling part came later.”

Quigley went on to graduate from DePaul University in 1980 and worked briefly for a rental car company in New York City before returning to school to earn his Master of Business Administration from Notre Dame.

After moving to California and working for an insurance company while playing the horses on weekends, Quigley had the turning-point moment in his career when he became a business manager for two magazines, “Architectural Digest” and “Bon Appetite.” Not only did he get the experience needed to help start his own magazine, but Quigley said he also “became more of an entrepreneur” from working closely with the magazines’ owner, Bud Knapp.

“He had a big influence on the way I think,” said Quigley, whose bi-monthly magazine folded a few years ago when advertising revenue diminished and the information started to become outdated because of the Internet.

So what’s the next reinvention for him?

“I don’t see anything on the horizon at the moment,” Quigley said, laughing. “I’m too busy just having a lot of fun.”

Dave Dye is a former sportswriter for the Detroit News and FoxSportsDetroit.com