From his teenage days standing at the rail of Fort Erie Racetrack, to his current role as timer high above Woodbine Racetrack, Gregg Peacock has always appreciated a bird’s eye view of thoroughbred racing. He grew up a horseshoe’s throw from the track known as the border oval, a place where he’d regularly meet up with his friends for a day at the races.
The biggest obstacle those days for Peacock and his pals? Making sure they got to Fort Erie before first race post time. “It was as easy as crossing the road to get there,” recalled Peacock. “The only challenge was being there in time so that we could bet the early daily double. But, we always had a great time when we went. I can even remember the odd time picking up tickets off the floor to see if there was any winners.”
Over the years, Peacock’s interest in handicapping horses continued to grow. So, too, did his affinity for the thoroughbreds themselves. “I eventually got my owner’s licence, which I had for 26 years,” recalled Peacock. “I remember the first one I co-owned got beat by a nose and was claimed. It took 1-1/2 years before we had our first winner. (Clever Romance) won three in a row and then got claimed. That’s the nature of the business.”
And a valuable lesson learned.
“When you have instant success as an owner, I don’t think you appreciate it,” said Peacock, who picked out the Summer and Natalama Stakes as his two favourite events on the Woodbine calendar. “If it takes longer to get that first winner’s circle photo, dealing with those near misses, you do appreciate it.”
One thing that has remained a constant for Peacock is his almost forensic approach to betting the races, a side of the sport he continues to enjoy.
“Gambling is the draw and it’s what makes horse racing so compelling,” he said. “’For me, it’s never been about how much money you make – although it is nice to have those big days – but more about figuring out the puzzle. I really enjoy watching the morning workouts, getting a handle on the horses, and watching how they prepare ahead of the races.”
Preparation, well before the next day’s card of racing, is what Peacock preaches to handicappers. “Do your homework,” he said. “Learn how to read the Daily Racing Form. And do your homework before you get to the races. The more you know ahead of the races, the better your odds are of being successful. Lazy handicappers don’t make any money.”
Afforded a view few others have, six floors above Woodbine’s E.P. Taylor Turf Course and main track, Peacock is entertained throughout the Toronto oval’s thoroughbred meet.
And if he happens to leave with a few extra dollars in his wallet, all the better.
“I’ve been around horse racing a long time and I’ve been fortunate to have seen the sport in a lot of different ways. I enjoy coming into work every day, talking horses, and watching the races. You can’t really ask for more than that.”