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Help the ‘new kid’ create an interactive horse racing forum

There’s a new kid in town, to use the term extremely loosely.

As longtime readers of this column know, Richard Eng, who covered racing for the Review-Journal for 20 years, has left the building for other adventures.

That leaves me to try to fill the biggest pair of shoes since Bozo the Clown retired. I’ll do my best to live up to Richard’s high standards, but I’ll need your help.

More on that in a moment, but first let me introduce myself.

I’ve been a horse racing fan for more than 40 years, since discovering the sport while attending college in the San Francisco Bay Area when I was assigned to write a feature on Golden Gate Fields for the student newspaper. I immediately fell in love with the backstretch, the characters who worked there and, of course, the horses. I soon became an apprentice in the fine art of handicapping as well.

After finding my way into the news business, I was fortunate enough to be able to marry my growing passion with my profession starting in the late 1980s, first as a racing columnist for the San Francisco Examiner and later covering the Triple Crown trail for msnbc.com/NBCSports.com.

In my return to writing about racing, I’ll cover stakes races and handicapping tournaments, profile some of the sport’s interesting players, share my opinions when I have them and cover big scores and bad beats at Las Vegas’ racebooks.

I also invite you to send me your ideas for coverage, any questions you have about racing or thoughts about the big issues facing the sport as it attempts to remain relevant in an ever-expanding sports universe.

I’d also like to try something different by involving my fellow fans in a far-ranging handicapping conversation that I hope will educate, entertain and maybe even enrich readers. To pull that off, I need you to get involved.

Each week I’ll post past performances for a selected Saturday stakes race, courtesy of the fine folks at Equibase. We’re still working out the logistics, but I’m hoping to publish the PPs as early as possible on Thursdays and give handicappers the rest of the day to analyze the race, send me their picks and spell out the angle(s) they consider key to unraveling that particular handicapping puzzle. Then, I’ll tally the picks and publish and tweet the results, along with any particularly colorful or insightful comments that come my way, as part of the weekly column.

We’ll start the experiment in interactivity next week. You will find the past performances for a yet-to-be-selected Saturday stakes race on Thursday at reviewjournal.com/horseracing. If you send me an email, I will alert you once they are posted or you can follow me on Twitter and watch for a tweet when they are ready for viewing.

I know Las Vegas is home to many sharp horseplayers, and I’m hoping we can turn this into a robust handicapping discussion that will elevate all our games and help educate newer fans. Please lend the new “kid” a hand in making that happen.

Contact Mike Brunker at mbrunker@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4656. Follow @mike_brunker on Twitter.

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