If you’ve ever been to Suffolk Downs, chances are you’ve seen Jessica Paquette. She’s the vibrant young woman with the microphone in one hand and racing stats in the other. And all the while, Tweeting away with updates on races and horses.
In this week’s Reader’s Clubhouse, Paquette answers questions about her job with the ponies.
Q: You wear many hats at Suffolk Downs, as track handicapper, publicist, and even president of New England Turf Writer’s Association. Do you ever have a dull day at the office?
Never! That is the best part of my job. Every racing day holds the promise that I can see something extraordinary – a first time starter I wasn’t expecting to blow me away, a hard-trying old timer battling for yet another win, and so forth.
Q: How did you break into the field? Was this something you’d always wanted to do?
This is my dream job and I feel so fortunate to be a part of this industry, particularly in my home state. I grew up going to the races at Suffolk and Rockingham as a fan, and to be on the other side is very rewarding. This place is home to me. I started out as a teller at Rockingham Park then had the opportunity to work as an intern in their Publicity office. From there, I got an internship at Suffolk and I was pretty much the intern that just didn’t leave.
Q: What is the most exciting moment you’ve had during your career? And, what is the most challenging?
The most personally and professionally rewarding moment of my career was getting Auto City home to my friend Jessica (Creighton) in Maine. It was the first time where I realized the power I had in my position to really make a difference. He is a special horse and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to bring he and Jess together.
One of my favorite, and most exciting, events since I’ve been at Suffolk was our 75th Anniversary celebration in 2010. There is such deep, rich history at Suffolk and it was amazing to be part of the celebration. The racing was fantastic and despite torrential rain, the energy from the crowd was contagious.
The most challenging moment for me may have been the 2011 New England Turf Writers’ Awards Dinner. It can be a little daunting to put on an event of that magnitude!
Q: During the season, you seem to be poised over Twitter, offering commentary on every horse and track conditions. How has social media enlivened horseracing, and how do you prepare for all those Tweets?
I love social media. I think it is a phenomenal way to engage racing fans in a way that was never possible. I just never have my iPhone out of my hand and try to offer those following on Twitter a running commentary on the day, along with insights that they may not be able to get just watching via simulcast. I want to make them feel a part of what is going on.
Q: When is Opening Day this year?
We haven’t yet announced our 2012 racing schedule, but continue checking www.suffolkdowns.com in the coming weeks for more information. Also, “like” us on Facebook – www.facebook.com/thehometownfavorite and follow us on twitter @suffolkdowns and me @jmpaquette.
Q: You’ve also worked closely with CANTER New England, helping them with the annual Suffolk Showcase. Please describe how you got involved, and what this work entails?
I became friends with several CANTER volunteers and began by simply offering help here and there when I could and it grew from there. I have the advantage of being at Suffolk nearly every day during the racing season and become very familiar with most of the horses. When there are buyers, during Showcase or otherwise, I can offer them additional insights that I remember about certain horses – does he or she have a tendency to be calm in the paddock before a race, any interesting pedigree notes, and things like that. The perfect horse for someone can usually be found, it is just a matter of making the right match!