HENDERSON, Ky. (Monday, June 12, 2017) — Joe Kristufek — one of horse racing’s best-known public handicappers and a leader in fan education — will be the paddock analyst, odds-maker and author of program selections at Ellis Park’s summer meet that runs July 1 through Labor Day. Kristufek has been the paddock analyst at Kentucky Downs for the past four years and is in his third year at Churchill Downs.
“Here’s a sure bet: The Ellis fans will be as delighted as we are to have Joe,” – racing secretary Dan Bork
“You don’t get better credentials than Joe Kristufek,” said racing secretary Dan Bork. “He is the complete package: studious, insightful handicapper with a real passion for getting people to embrace the sport he loves so much. Joe immerses himself into a track and is a terrific ambassador for racing. Here’s a sure bet: The Ellis fans will be as delighted as we are to have Joe.”
Kristufek, who last summer made Ellis Park selections for brisnet.com, also will join Ellis Park announcer Jimmy McNerney on the popular Saturday morning handicapping seminars in the clubhouse.
“I’m excited,” he said. “The purses are better, and we’ve seen a lot of good 2-year-olds come out of there. It’s nice for me to do Churchill, go right into Ellis and pick up where I left off. Now that I’ve been here three years, I have a much better handle on the horses, the trainers and how they operate, how things work around here. I’m looking forward to it.
‘I love talking to fans’
“I love talking to fans, that’s a big thing, and I want to do fan-development work. I’m proud to be a part of Ellis Park. It all starts with the quality of racing. Last year, they stepped it up with trainers, jockeys sticking around. It all starts there. And then you get more of a national focus with people betting your product. Hopefully I can help in that regard, because I think I’m somewhat of a familiar face nationally and even more so in Kentucky now.”
The Chicago product also makes the morning line for Arlington Park and Kentucky Downs. He is a fan-development specialist for Horse Racing Nation, was co-founder with Jeremy Plonk of Horse Player NOW’s ground-breaking online fan-education series “Night School,” led The Jockey Club’s Racing 101 Fan Education Tour at prominent tracks across the country and created Arlington Park’s “Learn to Win” seminars.
Kristufek has been the handicapper and racing correspondent for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago since 1999, is an analyst and reporter for the Breeders’ Cup simulcast show, works with America’s Best Racing as an analyst and in fan development, and was Hawthorne Race Course’s on-air and replay-show host in the 1990s.
He notes that making the program odds and making program selections — along with paddock adjustments to those selections — are different skill sets. The morning-line odds that Kristufek sets are based on how he thinks bettors will wager. His picks are what he thinks will happen.
“It’s a challenge when you’re the TV guy and you’re the morning-line guy, because it’s two different jobs,” Kristufek said. “You’re trying to predict the public versus trying to predict the outcome. It’s two different jobs. They relate to one another, but you’re trying to be accurate on both ends.”