Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Allison DeLuca, Racing Secretary

Our first blogger is Allison De Luca, the director of racing and racing secretary since the 2006-07 season. In addition to her duties at Tampa Bay Downs, De Luca is the stakes coordinator at Keeneland in the fall and at Churchill Downs after the Kentucky Derby. In 1987, she became the first female racing secretary at a recognized meet when she was hired at Sportsman’s Park in Illinois.

When you’re a racing secretary, you end up saying ‘No’ a lot. Turning people down who would like to come here or having to tell them we don’t have extra stalls is difficult, but it’s part of my job. Or, someone may come in and ask for a race and I have to turn them down because it’s coming up in the book later or it’s just a race we don’t write.
You hate to be the bearer of bad news, but most people are very nice about it. I try to stay calm and state my case and not get someone any more upset than they already may be. I’m not saying I’m perfect at it, but that’s what I try to do.
I think all racing secretaries get accused of favoritism. It is just a natural thing, if you think about it. People especially think that of the leading trainers, that I get everything done for them. Really, it’s laughable. Jamie Ness has been leading trainer here for quite a while, and I rarely talk to him.
Sure, everybody has people they get along with better – that’s human nature. But actually, if you are a friend of mine, I probably treat you worse than someone I don’t know because I don’t want anyone to say I’m doing you a favor.
I’ve given up trying to be liked by everybody. I guess I’ve kind of matured in that sense. The people who I need to like me are my friends and my family. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a people person, and I try to be fair and not be mean to anybody. And I don’t feel I’m in a position of power to lord over anyone. The bottom line is, I want to try to make things work, and if I can help you, I will.
I just want you to call me back if I call you. I don’t care if you say ‘no,’ but we need you to say it so we can move on.
Filling the entries and writing the condition book are the two aspects of my job that take the most time. I always end up doing the book at home, because there are people in and out of the office all day and you just can’t concentrate. You kind of need to step away and let your mind relax before you start on it.
It probably takes a few days to write; you just do it in bits and pieces and work on it when you can. Ask any racing secretary – when they finish that book, it is like the weight of the world is off of you. But before you know it, three or four days later you have to start the next one.
The most hectic time of the day for us is from 9-11 a.m., when we’re taking entries and trying to fill the races. There comes a point when you can see certain races are not going to fill and that’s when we start calling people on the phone. If we need to fill more than one race, I start handing them out to everybody to start making calls.
It’s not always fun, but it’s an accomplishment when you get it done. What feels best is when you ask someone to run their horse in a race and they win. It’s already happened a few times this meet.
What I’ve always liked best about my job is the camaraderie with my fellow officials, both around the country and the ones I work with. My closest friends are racing officials, and we’re a very tight-knit group here at Tampa Bay Downs! Stanley Shina, Judy Clark, Gerry Stanislawzyk, Henry Cambone, Eddie Cantlon, Diana Pimental, Jennifer Moore, Lawrence Waite, Pat Bovenzi, Sam and Carol Siciliano, Pete Antonucci, Joe Waunsch, Ron Dill – they are all important to me and vital to the day-to-day operation.
I have had many influences on my career. (Current Tampa Bay Downs steward and former racing secretary) John Morrissey and I have always stayed in touch. I worked for him at Keystone, and he helped me get my first major assistant’s job at Hawthorne. A lot of people are always calling him for advice. He pretty much knows the answers to what every racing secretary needs to know.
My son, Henry Montgomery, is my inspiration. I would say he is the reason I get up in the morning. Henry is a college graduate from the University of Kentucky, where he majored in political science. He is an avid sports fan. He’s 23 now and is trying to be a professional poker player. He is very smart and quiet, which is probably one of the reasons he’s so good at poker – people don’t know what he is thinking! I am also very close to my two brothers and two sisters.
This job doesn’t leave much time for hobbies. I am very interested in politics, sometimes too much so. If I retired, I would like to be the person in the neighborhood who takes people to their doctor appointments, things like that. I love older people, and I would like to do more of those type of things.
I will never be on Facebook. Remember I said that. I know social media can be used for good and evil, but I think people are putting too much of their personal information out there, and I don’t think that’s  healthy. The Internet can be a good thing, but too often some nitwit will say something and have it catch fire and be accepted as truth, when it’s not.
I know I’ve done a good job when I’ve tried my hardest and finished what I set out to do. When I finish my tasks, try to put together a good card and am able to help someone in the process, I feel like I’ve had a good day.


  1. Allison does a fantastic job at Tampa Bay Downs. Under her leadership and decision making, Tampa Bay Downs has positioned itself as one of the premier racetracks in the country. Our reputation grows every year, our calibur of horses keep getting better and better and we now have multiple graded races. It is a pleasure to attend Tampa Bay Downs and I think the entire staff should be commended for doing a fantastic job!

  2. I had the pleasure of working with Allison last year in the racing office and not only is she a great racing secretary but a great person. I learned so much from her and my other coworkers in the office last year. Without her guidance and wisdom, I would not know as much about the racing office as I do today. She puts a tremendous amount of work into creating the condition book and putting together race cards. You can tell how much she loves the sport. She is definitely someone I look up to and admire and for great reason. Keep on doing a great job Allison!

  3. Allison you do a great job. I know when i go in your office some times you say yes some times you say no. And a day or two goes by and some thing come up and you call up and ask if you still need help.

    Thank You

    PS Your staff does a great job to