Questions and Answers

Let's face it. Nobody cares what I have to say. 

In most cases, that's the point. Unless it's a personal narrative, a story is supposed to be about a subject and what that person is doing. A writer can bring life to the prose, but ultimately, most people are reading the story for the subject, not the byline. They put the rockstar on the cover of Rolling Stone, not the reporter.

That's why I enjoy Q&As, both as a reader and a writer. Every interview I do for a story is ultimately a Q&A, and that simple format cuts out the middleman toward presenting the subject's words and ideas directly to the audience.

As a reporter, I can afford to get more conversational in my interview, knowing that's the format of the story, and I don't have to worry about making it fit into a greater whole. The interview itself is the greater whole.

You can give your subjects room to elaborate with their answers without having to jam their words into the middle of a story as a quote. Sometimes, the questions you have are just so scattered, but equally relevant, that they wouldn't fit into a single story. Every Q&A should have a narrative reason for happening, but once you hit "record," whatever happens next becomes the narrative.

As a reader, the Q&A format is easy to digest, and the way it gets split up makes it appear less intimidating to read, even though it's probably as long as a normal story, if not longer. Also, I feel like I'm getting the information straight from the subject, unfiltered (even if it isn't). A good Q&A should ask the questions someone picking up the story would ask if given the chance, and hopefully some they wouldn't have thought to ask, but wish they had.

Below is a sampling of some Q&As I have been a part of over the years with some of the horse racing industry's most interesting and influential people.Click on the links in bold to read each interview.  

Duncan Taylor - Taylor Made - Daily Racing Form, September 2015
The head of Taylor Made, an industry leader in sales, stallions, and boarding, talks about his unforgettable year - American Pharoah, California Chrome (and his fans), and Unbridled's Song - and the Taylor Made philosophy. A part of DRF Breeding's 2015 Keeneland September yearling sale preview issue.

"You just never know where the [next great] horse is coming from. I've had a thousand people ask me 'Did you know?' And I tell people that we didn't grade [American Pharoah] as the very best horse on the farm, but he was in the top 20 percent...If you could be a breeder and know you're going to get all B-pluses, you'd be the happiest person in the world." 

Antony Beck - Gainesway - Daily Racing Form, September 2014
Conducted as part of the 2014 Keeneland September preview package. The owner of Gainesway talks Tapit, the yearling market, and comparisons with different jurisdictions and commodities.

"In both wine and horses, quality always sells."

Jeb Hannum - Pennsylvania HBA - Daily Racing Form, September 2014
An interview with the former executive secretary of the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, assessing the state of the Pennsylvania-bred program as he prepared to leave his position.

"Clearly, there needs to be more promotion of live racing. It's just not done very much. It's frustrating to see, and that's often the fault of the tracks. They have plenty of marketing resources for table games and slots, but they just simply aren't promoting the racing product, and I think they really need to get behind that." 

Mandy Pope - Whisper Hill Farm - Daily Racing Form, January 2014
One of the most prominent high-end buyers of recent years, Pope discusses her high-profile purchases and the feeling of signing that big ticket.

"The greatest thrill and the reason for all of this is to actually put your hands on the horse, to be in the presence of the horse. It's the horse. That's what it's about. The parties are great and fun, but just the excitement of being a part of such a wonder creature."

Nick Nicholson - Keeneland Association - Thoroughbred Times, November 2011
Then the president of Keeneland Association, Nick Nicholson reflected on an eventful and successful Fall 2011 meet.

"I was in the paddock one day [for the Grade 1 Dixiana Breeders' Futurity on October 8], and I saw the saddle towel No. 16 come by me. I thought to myself, 'Boy, you don't see that saddle towel very often in this country.'"

Richard Rettele - Jockey/Trainer - Midwest Thoroughbred, September 2010
A talk with prominent Midwest jockey and trainer Richard Rettele in the midst a riding hot streak in the weeks surrounding his 70th birthday.

"I just like the competition. I like the action. I like the competitive spirit of horses. You get to really liking a good horse. Believe me. When one of those horses runs hard and gives you everything he's got, you get to liking him."

Tom Miscannon - "Racetrack Bucket-Lister" - The Michigan-Bred Claimer, July 2010
Chatting with a world traveler during a visit to his 284th racetrack, Mount Pleasant Meadows, about the places he's been and the lengths to which he's gone to pursue live racing.. He has since taken that number over 300.

"You can have Grade 1 horses, but if everybody's bad to you or the place is a dump and there's trash all over the place, then it's really pointless. I'd rather go watch $2,500 claimers if the track is nice and people treat you well."