Growing up in Bellmore, N.Y. – only a 10-minute drive from Belmont Park – Andrew Demsky cultivated his admiration for Thoroughbred race horses at an early age.
Demsky was also intrigued by the science and art of handicapping races. For the 27-year-old Hofstra University graduate, constructing an outcome from the puzzle pieces offered in past performance charts and the paddock is a stimulating challenge that never grows tiresome.
“If I can map out in my head where every horse is going to be during each part of a race, and if it kind of plays out that way,” he said, “that is almost like saying I saw the future.”
Demsky himself represents a big part of the future at Tampa Bay Downs, at least when it comes to transmitting handicapping information to bettors at the track and via simulcasting.
Tampa Bay Downs Vice President and General Manager Peter Berube has announced Demsky, a Palm Harbor, Fla., resident who was introduced to track bettors during the latter part of the 2013-2014 meeting, will broadcast his selections for each race during the 2014-2015 meeting over the track’s closed-circuit signal.
Demsky takes over the “Paddock Preview” duties from Tampa Bay Downs Vice President of Marketing & Publicity Margo Flynn, who will continue in her executive role while shifting her focus to other responsibilities. Thoroughbred racing returns to the Oldsmar oval on Saturday, Nov. 29.
Flynn had done the “Paddock Preview” Show at Tampa Bay Downs the last 20 years. Before that, she made the race selections at Rockingham Park in New Hampshire.
“Andrew’s amiable personality was well-received by our fans toward the end of our last meeting, and his selections proved to be very successful,” Berube said. “While it will be difficult for him to match Margo’s percentage of winners, we are pleased to give Andrew an opportunity to offer his fresh, unique perspective on the Tampa Bay Downs racing scene.”
In addition to the “Paddock Preview” Show, Demsky will continue to work at the track for SVT (formerly Sportview Technologies) as a video camera operator, technical director and tape replay operator.
From 2010-2013, Demsky worked in minor league baseball as a video producer for the Binghamton (N.Y.) Mets, the Quad Cities (Iowa) River Bandits and the Pensacola (Fla.) Blue Wahoos.
But his burning desire to be part of Thoroughbred racing led him to submit a resume to SVT Tampa Bay Downs supervisor Robert Lapp, who recognized Demsky’s ability and passion were a good fit at an entertainment destination that has always placed Thoroughbred racing above its other offerings.
In the second half of the 2013-2014 Tampa Bay Downs meeting, Demsky created and produced “The Connections,” an online TV show featuring trainers, jockeys and horses in their quest to excel on the racetrack. Demsky produced additional episodes of “The Connections” while working this past summer at Canterbury Park in Minnesota as a technical director and in-house TV host.
Episodes of “The Connections” can be accessed online at www.facebook.com/TheConnectionsTV
“Canterbury gave him an opportunity to display his personality and knowledge of racing, and we were impressed by what he accomplished,” Flynn said. “We’re excited to bring a new face to the role of paddock handicapper.”
Demsky knows he has big shoes to fill, but is eager to get started on a daily basis. “I’m thankful for this opportunity,” Demsky said. “I’m confident in my handicapping ability, and one of my main goals in getting involved is to help bring a new, younger audience to racing.
“I’ve brought a lot of people to the racetrack over the years, and I’ve never had anyone tell me they didn’t enjoy it. But it is a sport that can be hard to find, and I’d like to do anything I can to increase its exposure.
“From everything I have seen, Margo was incredibly welcoming and watchable on TV, and she is very approachable off-camera. That is what I would like to emulate,” Demsky added. “If at any time someone wants to talk racing with me, I’m available for that conversation. I want to listen to that person’s opinion.
“I’m not going to be spitting out winners every race, but if you can form an opinion and blend it with mine and we can come up with some winners, we’re all going to go home happy.”