Gary Contessa TeleVision–GCTV Debuts on YouTube, MANY Thanks to Talk of the Track

Marion Altieri,New York writer

Marion Altieri,New York writer

Sitting in the barn office of Thoroughbred Trainer, Gary Contessa on Belmont Stakes Day morning three weeks ago, we had no idea that something fabulous was about to be foaled.

It was pouring outside, so grey and depressing, I thought that we’d all drown before we got the chance to see American Pharoah run the race of his life.

But we were in for a surprise, of the most fun kind…

You see, Bill and Georgia Rush of Talk of the Track had come to make videos of Gary for this ‘site, talking about what he knows best:  horse racing.  (Anyone who’s met Gary realizes quickly that the respected New York-based Thoroughbred Trainer is passionate about horses and the sport of racing them. His raw enthusiasm is infectious: to hear the man talk about horses is to become entranced.  I work for him, but I could listen to him talk horses all day.  And when he talks–I take notes.  I’ve been a race fan for 55 years, but every time–I learn something new.)

Well, Bill wanted to know what Gary seeks in a horse when he goes to the sales.  We’d figured it out last year, when ToTT did a brief piece with him, but it was confirmed for us that morning:  that, put a mic in Gary’s hand and a camera in front of his face, and he speaks with the authority of an actor who’s reciting from a memorized script.   Gary started speaking–some minutes later, he wrapped it up, with a period at the end. The three of us looked at each other–he’d been speaking off the top of his head, and yet it was perfectly articulated. It had a beginning, a middle and an end.  (As a writer, of course I always look for this in both the written and spoken word.)

Gary Contessa ROI story Marion E. Altieri 5Gary is a natural.  He was born to be on TV.  Or, with the Digital Age ushering in such social media as YouTube–Gary was meant to become a YouTube star.

After the three videos were wrapped, and Bill, Georgia and I twittering with excitement, Gary proclaimed again that he’d love to do this stuff.  He’d told me in a  meeting previous to this, that he’s like to do videos about horse racing, but that day, with the energy in the air that he’d generated and Bill captured in his jar (video camera)–Gary pronounced that he wanted to teach about horse racing, and have a YouTube channel.

The three of us left Gary’s barn that wet Belmont Stakes morning, and had to re-adjust our heads.  Now we had to go to the races, and see if we had a Triple Crown winner.  Georgia and Bill had to go straight to work, doing photography and more filmmaking.

So fast-forward a few days, ’til we all had our heads together.   Bill edited the first two videos, including some amazing extra footage on the Sales piece.  He sent them to me, and I created Gary Contessa TeleVision–GCTV on YouTube.

It’s an honor to work on such a project with Gary, because he’s sincere.  He’s as real as real gets.  He loves horses and horse racing, but he has also a drive for education.   We’ve discussed many times the sad fact that, one of the reasons why horse racing isn’t growing by leaps and bounds is that—the sport is very complicated.   It bugs Gary that it’s so complicated, and yet there’s no uniform network of formal education for the public in place.  Both long-time race fans and potential fans should have easy access to information about everything from the conformation of a horse to discussions of pedigree, wagering, care and how to buy at auction.

And, Gary stresses, always–it should be fun.  If something isn’t fun, why do it?  If a sport is so complicated that you can’t learn about it enough to enjoy it–to have really Big Fun–why bother?

Gary’s goal, of educating the public, was the driving force for the creation of Gary Contessa TeleVision—GCTV on YouTube. The YouTube channel was launched on June 19th, 2015, and the reception so far has been tremendous.  I’m delighted to report that hundreds of people have watched the videos so far–many have subscribed–and the numbers can only go up.

To our knowledge, this is a first, that a Thoroughbred Trainer has created a YouTube channel as a means of educating the racing public, and helping them to grow both their range of knowledge and their passion for the horses and the sport.  For all I can see, Gary may be the only Trainer who’s created a YouTube channel, at all. From my perspective, it’s a blessing and genuine joy to be associated with this ambitious project, and with a Trainer who cares so much–about his horses, about the sport and about the people who have the potential to fall in love with the sport, and become fans.

“I’m ready to go: this is a great way to share this business and my experiences in it with everyone,” he effused, “we’ll be creating videos all during the Saratoga meet, and into Belmont, fall.”

Gary Contessa TeleVision–GCTV–might never have been born, had not Bill and Georgia wanted to get Gary “on tape,” as it were, talking about his love of the sport.  They’ll be in Saratoga this August to work with us, and create more videos to go onto the channel.  Some may be time-sensitive, but the majority of the videos will be evergreens–pieces that, 50 years hence, still will have meaning, still educate and inform.

For more information on Gary Contessa TeleVision—GCTV, or to schedule an interview with Gary, please contact Marion Altieri, Director of Communications at

Thank you, and–enjoy!