Megan Maccario joined the Pick Insider team (now Thoroughbred Insider) in the Summer of 2016 to cover the New York thoroughbred racing scene, but her passion and knowledge of the sport of harness racing was quickly evident. Megan’s role with Pick Insider quickly evolved into being our lead harness racing correspondent, while still covering thoroughbred racing in her home state. In order to learn more about Megan and what fuels her passion for racing, here are “Five Questions with Megan Maccario”.
When did your love for racing begin?
When I was a child, I used to go to Yonkers Raceway with my grandfather and my mom to watch our horses race. We had dinner up in the restaurant overlooking the track (which is no longer open), and I remember going up to the window to make bets with my grandfather. He owned horses that raced at Roosevelt Raceway before it closed (before I was born) and my family was there every week. If our horse won, my grandfather would whistle to everyone and that would be their cue to run to the winner’s circle.
My family still owns Standardbreds. My grandfather passed away in 2008 and left a pacer to my mother. He’s now retired and lives on our trainer’s farm and will spend the rest of his life there. My mom and I still own a few pacers that race at Monticello, and most recently The Meadowlands.
Of the racetracks you have visited, which ones stand out as your favorites?
Of the racetracks I’ve been to, I would have to say my favorite flat track is Saratoga. But my SENTIMENTAL FAVORITE is definitely Belmont because I grew up there. My favorite harness track is the new Meadowlands; they renovated it quite nicely and it is well-run.
- You Might Also Be Interested In : A Gray Day at Belmont Park – Megan’s Belmont Stakes Recap
What is the most memorable race you have seen in person?
I was present for the 2015 and 2016 Kentucky Derby, and I then witnessed the 2015 Belmont Stakes when American Pharoah became the 12th horse in history to win the elusive Triple Crown. That was definitely my most memorable race I’ve ever seen. I cried happy tears hours and even days after. I’ve never experienced anything like it.
Every year I’d have the same sullen conversation with my mother before the Derby, “there will never be another triple crown”. Then … it happened. I was standing right next to her when Pharoah crossed the finish line first, and I cannot even describe the feeling we both had in that moment. She had witnessed the last three Triple Crowns when she was just a child at the track with my grandfather. Being there and seeing that with her was an indescribable feeling.
What experience stands out to you the most in harness racing?
This past summer, I attended the Hambletonian at the Meadowlands. Wiggle It Jiggleit and Always B Miki were facing each other yet again in the U.S. Pacing Championship. They were the most talked about, of course; however, I fell in love with the little six year old pacer Shamballa, who always races against them and was in this race as well.
Sham is often overlooked. I followed his career in Canada for a year or two and would always wager on him when he raced. I was fortunate enough to make friends with his wonderful groom who is a great guy all around and was able to meet Shamballa in the paddock before the big race. Always B Miki and Wiggle It Jiggleit were the favorites, and I was convinced they would go 1-2. I watched at the fence as they came around the turn, and Shamballa, who is referred to as the “Zenyatta of Harness Racing” because of his late stretch surges, came flying past them all to win at 8-1. I screamed and cried so loud and ran to the winner’s circle… I couldn’t believe what had just happened.
That day epitomized the old saying “it’s a horse race – ANYTHING can happen.” That day is a memory I hold very near to my heart.
You are obviously very passionate about the sport of racing. What impact would you like to help make for the sport?
I love both thoroughbred and harness racing. I would love to bring a new generation of fans into both, but harness racing especially needs more love. It is stigmatized, and I would like to try to shed a positive light on the sport by telling my family’s story and what it has done for my mother and I. Harness racing is our bond in life, and I’d like to continue to carry on our passion. I talk to anyone and everyone who will listen about my experiences with hopes that they will find it even the slightest bit interesting and give it a try.
Megan Maccario, with your passion and knowledge, there is NO DOUBT that you will be able to make an impact in reaching that new generation of fans, which is exactly why Pick Insider is so lucky to have you as part of our team.