CLN RACING SECRETARY

New CLN racing secretary Tyler Picklesimer was recently profiled by John Packett in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

NEW KENT — When he finished college at Northern Kentucky University, Tyler Picklesimer didn’t intend on getting involved in the horse racing industry.
In fact, the native of East Liverpool, Ohio, figured he would wind up in radio, TV or film, since he had majored in communications.


“I was leaning toward television,” Picklesimer said. “I had a TV news directing course, and I liked that fast-paced environment. The racing office is a lot like that. When it’s hopping, things are happening fast and you’re making decisions in a hurry. I sort of like that part of it.”

Picklesimer, 37, has been making those kind of decisions since taking over as the racing secretary at Colonial Downs in early May. That’s when he started lining up horses for the 12th annual Thoroughbred meet, which opens tomorrow (5 p.m. post time) at the New Kent County track.

So how come he changed his mind from possibly directing TV news shows to searching for horses to fill the racing cards for the 45-day meet?

It seems a pregnancy — not in his family — was involved in the process.

“My stepfather [Rick Leigh] has been a racing official for 40 years probably,” Picklesimer said at media day on Thursday. “He’s the racing secretary at Turfway Park and one of the stewards at Churchill Downs and Keeneland. One of the girls that worked for him was on maternity leave. I had just graduated from college, and I filled in for a meet while she was having her baby and never left.”

When he was hired to replace Randy Wehrman — who left for a full-time job at Charles Town, W.Va. — Picklelsimer was serving as stakes coordinator at Keeneland. He also was the assistant racing secretary at Turfway Park (Ky.) and the paddock judge at Churchill Downs.

“They taught me what they wanted me to learn,” Picklesimer said of his early days in the business. “The nice thing about it is there’s something different. Just a wide range of personalities that you deal with . . . much like you guys deal with in the news media. There’s a lot of characters in horse racing. It’s not the same thing every day.”

Over the past 15 years, Picklesimer has worked in other track capacities such as steward, placing judge, claims clerk and official timer. He also has worked at The Red Mile, a harness track in Lexington, Ky.

All of which has prepared him for this job at Colonial Downs, which will last only through the meet, which ends on Aug. 6. And then he’ll return to Kentucky and his other duties.

“I write the condition books, which is a list of races that I think I can fill and I’m going to run them on certain days of the week,” Picklesimer said. “Those races all feed toward the stakes, the signature days.”

Picklesimer has about 50 people working for him, including the starting gate crew, clerk of scales, racing office personnel and the stall superintendent and his staff. It’s a position he’s been pointing toward since he first got into the business — pretty much by accident.

“I’ve always thought the two most important jobs at a racetrack are the racing secretary and the mutuel manager,” he said. “One creates the product, and the other one takes the money. Those are sort of the two things that make the wheel turn.”

(Photo by Clement Britt / Times-Dispatch)