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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


After getting a second confirmation from industry sources requesting anonymity, was able to confirm that Executive Columnist Jay Hovdey, National Handicapper Mike Watchmaker handicapping analysts Matt Bernier and Byron King, and editor Robert Fortuna are no longer employed by Daily Racing Form.

The sale of DRF has been on the down low for several months and the severing of employment ties could mean that negotiations are getting serious and a sale may be coming closer to fruition with Monday’s apparent salary dumps.

The source of the rumor were not confirmed by a second source until Monday evening and rumors persist that these layoffs might not be the end of the cost cutting.

If and when any more becomes known, we will pass the information along. At minimum, the face of what once was the most comprehensive, indispensable newspaper covering Thoroughbred racing has been altered forever.

—HRI Staff

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37 Responses

  1. Matt Bernier fired!!! Not only sad for a true friend and lover of horses and horse racing but losing an ambassador for the sport and DRF will undermine the credibility and perceived commitment of DRF going forward. Good business is good people. Goodbye business goodwill 💀💀

  2. I guess this presages the end of DRF as a print publication.It soon will be on-line only.That is something that has been spoken of for years and now I guess the time has come.Does anyone know who this alleged prospective buyer is?

  3. I am disgusted by these “salary dumps” which are so common during the sales of businesses or takeovers in the public space. Matt Bernier is the best young handicapper in the industry. I’m not a huge Watchmaker fan but he brings a plethora of experience and knowledge to his analysis. The DRF is certainly not a better product after these firings, so I do not understand how they are tenable for a new owner? I stopped using formulator after my yearly subscription ran out 6 m onths ago – the Beyer speed figures have lost their credibility. And that was the only thing that made the DRF indispensible. They have done nothing to improve formulator in over a decade which is truly pathetic for a tech company, which is what DRF is – maybe that’s the problem – they didn’t know what their mission was anymore? This is an information and technology business not a newspaper business. And they were competent at neither.

  4. Jay Hoveday has for many years taken over the role of the great turf writer Joe Hirsch. Both Jay and his wife Julie Krone
    are celebrities in this industry who have more than paid their dues. This unfair action reminds me of what happened to
    Jerry Hollendorfer. Real horsemen read Jay’s column weekly, and then gain a perspective totally unlike those silly Beyer numbers. If this event signals the end of the print version of the DRF, then racing in the USA is in trouble indeed.

  5. Agree 100% with Mr. Hussa’s comments. Hovdey has always been a very classy guy and his columns were a must read. How does JP keep his job during the senior level blood letting?

  6. Jay Hovday is the BEST. The modern day version of the legendary Joe Hirsch. I always looked forward to his articles in the Form. Jay has such respect for the history of the game and his love of horse racing is apparent in every article he has ever penned. I’m sure Jay will land on his feet somewhere, hopefully soon !

  7. This is all quite sad and seems to spell the end of a sport that I really loved. Jay brought a history of the sport in his columns. At least he had the chance to say goodbye unlike the others. All will be missed. I suppose Randy Newman had said it best so many years ago, “Its money that matters in the USA’.


  9. Looks like Z Capitol Group is a bunch of bean counting weasels who has fired some if their best and most devoted employees. Mike Watchmaker and Jay Hovdey were part of the very foundation that DRF was built on, and it’s being destructed from within.

  10. Z Capitol Partners don’t have a clue about horse racing. Hopefully somebody that actually cares about horse racing steps up and buys the Daily Racing Form. The firings of Watchmaker, Hovdey, Byron King, and Matt Bernier has vendetta wrote all over it. It’s a desperation move by some bean counting weasels that don’t have a clue about horse racing.

  11. Has anybody seen or heard anything from former National handicapper at drf Mike Watchmaker ? I wonder, if the group that were fired, stuck together. And the others, you be the judge.

  12. Race Secretary at nearly every tracks ought to create intriguing Race Cards, instead of stringing handicappers and patrons alike. The Sport lost its appeal by lack of enthusiasium Top to Bottom more than 40+ yrs. $$$ has taken precedence over glamour of the Sport. Those unique individuals have been long gone where admiration persisted in the ”King of Sports.” Technology, changed affordability vs. hard labor behind the Backstretch earning minimal during this era’s past, present, and unknown future! Loyalty, Love, admiration is fully required towards rejuvenation of the “King of Sport” B. Solomon

  13. Wow! I am going to miss mike watchmaker and jay priveman comments in daily racing form.guess I will only buy sports newspaper as I always bought daily racing form at off betting track.

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