When a tornado touched down in Revere, Mass. last week Suffolk Downs’ Jessica Paquette wasn’t running for cover. Instead, the intrepid senior director of communications at the track was standing at the highest point of the racetrack, announcing the first race of the day.
After track announcer T.D. Thornton got stuck in traffic as trees crashed down and rooftops flew off houses during the surprise weather system, Paquette was asked to wear one more hat, one of the many she dons for her favorite job. In addition to her communications director gig, she is also a handicapper and race analyst for Suffolk Downs.
And for the duration of the fist race on the card July 28, she was doing what men more typically do: calling a race.
“I just had so much fun,” she told the Daily Racing Form in an interview. “I will admit I was really nervous but tried to relax and roll with it. It was a great opportunity and Worth the Worry is now a horse I will always remember.”
In this week’s Clubhouse Q&A, Paquette answers questions about how she braved the dark clouds and brightly called a race.
Q: How much time did you get to prepare?
I had about an hour from when we realized T.D. was not going to make it, but I still had to prepare my normal racing duties so I was left with really minimal time to focus on the announcing. It actually worked out well – I did not have too much time to psyche myself out.
Q: What was the biggest surprise of calling the first race?
The biggest surprise was how natural it felt once they broke out of the gate. I was tremendously nervous at first but once the gates opened, I realized that I could just fall back on what I know – horse racing.
Q: Were you concerned at all that there was a tornado in the area?
I had no idea, to be honest. I was in the press box, on the roof, and noticed it was really stormy but did not think anything of it.
Q: I understand that it’s rare for a woman to call a race, please explain.
It has typically been done by men. There have been a handful of women to do it, including one who called a whole card, but for the most part, it is still very uncommon for a woman to call a race. Please click this hyperlink to listen to the race called by Jessica! ♦