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Horseplayer Corner

Sally Goodall is one of the most accomplished horseplayers of the National Horseplayers Championship Tour. She has qualified for 22 of the 25 National Horseplayers Championships (NHC), been crowned the 2020 NHC Tour Winner, and was inducted into the NHC Hall of Fame in 2021.

How did you get interested in handicapping contests?

When I started dating my husband, Richard, he took me to a handicapping contest at Penn National. The week before, he went to a Chinese concert with me, so I figured I owed him one. But to my surprise, I had a great time. I loved racing, the excitement, the action – and we won some money, so I was hooked. 


You’ve qualified for the past 22 National Horseplayers Championships (NHC) – what makes you continue to come back year after year?

I still enjoy the challenge of handicapping, but just as importantly, I really look forward to seeing all of the wonderful friends we have made over the years. For me, the NHC is the premier handicapping contest and a great party rolled into one.


Female horseplayers are in the minority- what would you say to people who accuse women of not making their own selections in handicapping contests?

Don’t get me started. I spend many long hours researching trainer patterns and workouts. Since Rich has retired from the contest circuit, I go to most onsite contests by myself and still that nonsense continues. I guess some men just can’t handle the fact that a woman can actually win on her own. I would say to them “deal with it boys, cuz here we come!”


What would you say to women who are interested in handicapping but are intimidated by the male dominated field?

I’m not sure what I could say to a woman, young or old, about being intimidated in a male dominated field. How about - don’t be. First of all, I don’t find that the men at our NHC contests are trying to intimidate anyone. Most of our players, male and female, are considerate and will try to help you at every turn. Yes, there are a few bad apples, but they are few and far between. I used to get mad. Now, when one of those bad apples is rude, I just say “he’s a putz” (my husband’s word) and ignore him. A woman has nothing to be intimidated by or afraid of at our contests. I would say, “just have fun, you will never be in a safer or friendlier environment.”


How does it feel to be one of the most decorated NHC players on the NHC Tour, male or female?

I came to the USA on my own thirty years ago and sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Yes, I love the winning, the accolades, the tour title, being at the final table and of course being elected to the NHC Hall of Fame was an unbelievable honor. And I got to share it all with my wonderful family and best friends. So how do I feel about it all? I feel blessed. And I’m not the first woman to achieve NHC success and I won’t be the last, count on it. 


How can we as an industry engage more women and make them feel included in all aspects of the sport?

I don’t think I’m qualified to talk about getting women involved in “all aspects of our sport,” but I do have an opinion about increasing our contest presence. Forget the men. Most men see handicapping as a man’s world, as a place to escape the humdrum of family life, and they will always feel that way. No. It is up to us women to get aggressive if we really want to change the handicapping contest playing field. I was very impressed by the Horse Racing Women’s Summit website and the 2023 Summit had quite a turnout of women of all ages who are players in our industry. Maybe in the 2024 Summit we could have a discussion about getting more women to play in NHC contests and [create] a mailing list. Oh, the possibilities. At the end of the day, there is no better way to really get to know the lifeblood of our industry [than by getting to know] the handicappers. And who knows, some of these ladies might come to love these contests as much as I do. Just a thought.

Photo Credit: Sally Goodall

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