While most people know her as Maggie Wolfendale, the expert paddock analyst for NYRA, they should prepare themselves to reference her as Maggie Morley in the near future.
Ms. Wolfendale married trainer Tom Morley in June of last year, and following the birth of their daughter Grace nearly a year ago, Maggie has been slowly but surely making the name change.
“I’m kind of transitioning to putting Morley at the end. I’ll probably eventually (sometime in the near future) drop the Wolfendale and go to Morley. Just because I have a daughter now, and her last name is Morley and everything else in my life is Morley,” she explained.
Mrs. Morley, a Maryland native, and her English-born husband started dating around Breeders’ Cup weekend in 2011, and Maggie was quickly put to work galloping Tom’s first horse as trainer after he amicably left the barn of Eddie Kenneally as an assistant.
Already a busy racetracker, the added roles of wife and mother haven’t slowed down Mrs. Morley, as she has tackled exercise riding, assistant training, on-air paddock analysis as well as adding on-track (more specifically, on-horse) post-race interviewing for Fox Sports 2 and MSG Plus network television recently.
“Being a mom is probably the most rewarding, as well as most entertaining jobs that I’ve had. And I couldn’t ask for a better partner to do this with than Tom. Both of them make me laugh every single day, if not every hour,” she stated.
The added responsibility of post-race interviewer had her making her on-air paddock picks, then running to do a quick clothes change before hopping on her pony, Q, to ride alongside the winning horse and jockey as soon as they finished the gallop-out.
Following her interviews, Maggie had to take Q back to his handler, and quick-change back into her paddock clothes to make selections for the next race.
Having honed her craft as one of the best paddock analysts in the country, Mrs. Morley is very thankful for recent technology to help make her tedious work a bit easier.
She relies heavily on a Microsoft Surface Book Pro tablet–using the Drawboard app in conjunction with DRF Formulator to take notes on all of the entries for a specific race card. Although she likes old-fashioned pen and paper, she only resorts to using them when making quick notes for interviews she conducts on horseback.
Mrs. Morley’s home, however, is the paddock.
“When I go in there, I’m completely objective, no matter if it’s my husband’s horse, if it’s my friend’s horse, or if it’s some horse I have a tie to. I hate talking about Tom’s horses because I try real hard to be objective about them,” said Mrs. Morley. “I’m out there saying my thoughts and opinions for the betting public. I’m not out there to stroke any trainer’s ego or on the flipside, put them down unnecessarily.”
Although she is well-respected in the horse racing industry as a fair, talented, hard worker, she has had to deal with the occasional “slighted” trainer as well as Twitter “trolls”.
Even though most trainers who felt she spoke unfairly of their horses speak to her personally, she has only had one trainer get angry at her and go to Twitter about it. As for the trolls, she explained, “the Internet is such a breeding ground for cowardly people to be able to act like bullies–you don’t have to put your real name on there, and we don’t know who they really are.”
For every race analyst, there are good days and bad days, and Mrs. Morley doesn’t worry too much about the bad days. “Every day is a new day. It’s tough. Up at Saratoga, it’s harder to have a lot of bad days, because you’re dealing with good horses, day in and day out. Good horses are genuine horses. If they look good, and they’re doing well, they usually run their race out on the racetrack.”
During the winter, she admits that reading horses in the paddock is a little more difficult.
“You might have a horse that looks fabulous, and you absolutely love, but they go out and run up the racetrack. It does get a little more difficult in the winter to differentiate between horses because sometimes during those months, you’re not dealing with that high caliber of horses. Sometimes those runners aren’t quite as straightforward–they’re not wearing their heart or ability on their sleeves,” Mrs. Morley surmised.
As for her role at NYRA, she’s thankful for the relationships she’s made with current as well as former co-workers.
She credits Andy Serling for bringing her on board at NYRA, and has the utmost respect for him.
“First and foremost the thing that I respect about him is his dedication and hard work. Sometimes, I’m like, ‘Andy, it’s your day off, stop watching racing’, and he’s on Twitter talking about it–he’s so passionate about racing. I can walk away from it for a couple days, but that has built upon his depth of knowledge about horses in the game,” she said.
She was also thankful to work with Jason Blewitt, who is now on-air talent at Gulfstream Park.
“I utterly enjoyed working with Jason Blewitt, he was one of my closest friends. Unfortunately, I was on maternity leave, and I got a phone call saying that they let him go. It was upsetting to me, but Jason is good at what he does, and he certainly landed on his feet and has a great gig down at Gulfstream,” Mrs. Morley said.
Tom and Maggie Morley in Kenya at Enasoit. (photo courtesy of Morley family)
Maggie was invited to be a panel moderator at the inaugural Equestricon convention held in Saratoga Springs this past August. She headed the panel titled “Persepctives: Women in Racing” with contributors Donna Brothers, Teresa Genaro, Carleigh Fedorka, Natalie Voss, and Erinn Higgins.
“Boy, did I luck out on the women I had on the board–they were so well-spoken, and it wasn’t like I had to get up there and prompt any one of them. We had an open conversation, we touched on topics, built upon ideas, and included the crowd as well. Everybody on the panel made my job as moderator extremely easy. We walked away fairly enlightened as to the different ideas as far as where women stand in racing,” she admitted.
Maggie tabs Brothers as well as Frank Carulli, Jeannine Edwards, Lafit Pincay III, Millie Ball, and Charlsie Cantey as sources of inspiration, mentorship and/or friendship.
Mrs. Morley wishes she could have more time to ski in the winter, and lay out on the beach with a good book in the summertime. With her frenetic work pace coupled with her new familial responsibilities, she understands that may be a pipe dream for now–as would someday owning one of her favorite horses of all-time: Medaglia d’Oro.
“He’s my favorite sire. Look what he did in the Breeders’ Cup–six winners. Every one that I’ve worked with of his have been very straightforward types of horses, and they’re always good looking. I’m just a big Medaglia d’Oro fan,” she excitedly explained.
It hasn’t been all work and no play for the newly married couple, however. Maggie has been to Africa twice–to South Africa as well as Kenya.
“Kenya was breathtaking. Where we stayed, a lodge named Enasoit, built around a salt lick where the animals go every morning to get salt for the day. You are fifty yards from giraffes, zebras, elephants, wildebeests. We got to do a little bit of riding. They had some old polo ponies that we could take out into the bush. It was just a magical, magical trip,” said Mrs. Morley.
The Morleys had one of the horses they train (owned by Robert Masiello) named Enasoit to commemorate the trip. The three year old Shackleford gelding out of a Gone West mare named Tres Tres Joli sports three wins in nine races as of his last race in late October.
A major proponent of Thoroughbred aftercare, Maggie can be found riding her OTTB Yeager, and cannot stress enough the importance of taking care of the horses when their racing days are finished.
“At the end of the day, neither Tom or I would be here without the horse. There’s been a lot of horses in our lives that have touched us, and that we have fond memories of and have helped build our careers, and we always want to give back. I think that’s why I’m passionate about making sure retired racehorses have a home and a second career to go to. Tom and I both try very hard to do that,” she said.
When her whirlwind days of working in the Morley barn, then heading to the track to do paddock analysis and on-track interviews are over, she’s more than ready to do it again the next day. “I get to do one of the most awesome things–looking at horses every day–I couldn’t imagine anything else in the world that I’d rather do.”