In the sport or Thoroughbred racing, you have to work your way to the top and few have worked harder and more thoroughly than TVG’s newest female analyst, Megan Devine. A native of Rockville Centre, New York, Devine has worked with horses since early childhood and attended the races as a as a child at New York’s premier tracks. She would go on to attend the University of Louisville, where she was the captain of the school’s Intercollegiate Horse Show Association Team.
Eventually, Megan used her academic and equine experience to dive deeper into her racing career and began working as a production assistant for NBC leading into the 2012 Kentucky Derby and became a vital member of the NBC team for the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup. She has had working gigs at Turfway Park, Ellis Park, Santa Anita Park, and has most recently joined the TVG team.
Thoroughbred Insider had the pleasure of interviewing one of the most accomplished and passionate Millennials in racing!
You have been riding horses since a very young age and have a long list of equine credentials. Tell us a bit about how you got into horses and some of your accomplishments?
So, I’m not originally from a horse family. My mom wanted me to be a ballerina, but that didn’t quite work out because I was really the only four-year-old with a beer belly. But I got on the back of a horse for my very first riding lesson, sat up straight and tall, and she figured “OK I guess this is what we’re doing”. So I started at the age of seven, we could never afford my own horse so I ended up mucking stalls, grooming and going to all sorts of shows to be able to afford it.
And then I got an opportunity with Elaine Schott at River Mountain Farm to compete in the USHJA Emerging Athletes Program. Out of thousands of applicants, I was selected in the Top 16 in the United States and went to National Finals. So, a kid that grew up riding sale horses from auction ended up riding from an Olympian, from Peter Wylde. In college I was captain of the IHSA Equestrian Team and qualified for Regional Finals multiple times.
But it really paid off for me because I got such a good education in the horse as an animal, and I think that that’s really helped me as an analyst because I can combine the form and also the equine part of it.
How did you get in to horse racing?
As a kid, I grew up going to Belmont and Saratoga with my Dad. I would go to the paddock to be able to see the horses. It wasn’t about handicapping and picking a winner at that time. I got more in to it when I went to college at the University of Louisville for their Equine Program, because you’re surrounded by the industry. I took every single opportunity that I could to learn. I galloped horses for a little while at Blackwood Stables, got a job with TVG as an assistant and they put me on air a couple of times. They were the first ones to put me on camera… I learned so much from the TVG talent and producers, especially Caton Bredar, Caleb Keller, Todd Schrupp, Paul Lo Duca, Mike Joyce, John Nelson and John Mousis. Then I worked as the paddock analyst for Turfway Park on Spiral Stakes Day, Ellis Park for their meet in 2016 and then out to Santa Anita Park.
I started working for NBC in 2012 when I got a job as a runner. I made copies, got coffees and picked people up from airports before I ended up moving up to assist the field producer. So, I spot horses in the morning when we’re doing camera work and I talk to trainers to set up interviews and shoots. I worked Sunday Night Football for them in 2014 and a couple of rugby shows, as well.
Who do you admire in the industry?
People I admire or look up to in the industry would be a very, very long list… Pretty much everybody that I have worked with. Just to name a few (and there are so many more), Donna Brothers has been a mentor to me, Amy Zimmerman is amazing, I respect Rob Hyland and his commitment to horse racing on television, every other talent I’ve been able to work for and all of the people behind that scenes that make it work. And the jockeys and horsemen, too!
What are some of your most memorable moments at the track?
I absolutely loved, not only American Pharoah’s Triple Crown win, but also the whole season. I was lucky enough to be around him a lot of the time, for every single one of his races and even when he went off to stud to retire. Watching him storm down the homestretch at Belmont Park and hearing the crowd shake the grandstand was the coolest thing to me. I got goose bumps.
Do you have any favorite interviews?
The entire 2016 Awesome Again weekend. Included in the winners were Bob Baffert with the winner of the Chandelier, Noted And Quoted, Gormley, who would go on to win the Santa Anita Derby for John Shirreffs, Art Sherman with California Chrome and Mike Smith. So, my very first weekend of work at Santa Anita was loaded with superstars in horse racing.
What’s your favorite racetrack?
Santa Anita, of course! How could you not love it here? It’s beautiful! We have some of the best horses in the world. And some of the best people, too. It really is like a family out here in Southern California. My favorite part of my job is highlighting the success of the people that work so hard and take care of these amazing horses. And the horses themselves! I think there are so many storylines that you can follow in horse racing and it makes it really cool. So if can relay that to the public and also help them make a couple of bucks, then that’s awesome.
Who are your other favorite racehorses?
Wise Dan! He tried so hard every single time. You’d think he wasn’t going to get there but somehow he did. He’s gelding, so he didn’t go off to stud and we got to watch him for so long. I thought that was such a gift to horse racing fans everywhere.
What tracks do you still want to visit?
I’ve been to quite a few tracks in the United States and even Royal Ascot in England! But I’d really love to go to Meydan for the Dubai World Cup, Australia for the major races, especially the Melbourne Cup, Chantilly in France, and so many more! And here in America, I’ve never been to Gulfstream Park. I’ll have to get there, maybe for the Pegasus World Cup Invitational!
What are your goals for the future?
I’d like to have some network experience. That, to me, is the ultimate goal. As a jumper, as an equestrian, I would love to be involved in that, in the coverage that’s done for equestrian and polo. But I played so many other sports growing up, too. I played soccer, track and field, archery, basketball, softball, snowboarding, surfing, anything, you name it! So, down the line, maybe there’s room to expand into other sports, as well. It would be amazing to cover the Olympics!
What do you do in your off time?
Ha ha! Off time? I don’t idle very well. But when I do find some off time, I have two dogs, Dixie and Gunner, who I spend time with. They’re like my kids. But really, I just go ride and spend time around horses. I also try to play soccer, hike and do yoga.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get in to the industry?
I think you have to be a student of the game, and networking is a huge thing, as well. The biggest thing is to put your heart and soul in to it. Say yes to opportunities to learn. It doesn’t matte what your job is. Starting out, you might not be in the positions that you want to be in, but if you do your job to the best of your ability and you do it with a smile on your face, that will really pay off. I think you can learn something from every experience you have any every person you meet.
Do you feel like you’re still learning?
I have a business degree. I didn’t learn broadcasting in college. This is something that I was able to learn on the fly, on the job. I learned from the best in the business, I learned from Bob Costas, Tom Hammond, Laffit Pincay III, everybody on the NBC shows. Getting to watch them do what they do has really taught me more than I think being in a classroom could have. So, for the TV part, I’m still learning, that’s still new to me. But I try to make it as fun as possible. I could talk all day long about horse racing. And lucky for me, that’s what I get paid to do.
Thank you so much, Megan, for giving us this entertaining look into your life and career. We can’t wait to follow you on your journey in the world of Thoroughbred racing.
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