Anyone who pays any kind of attention to the online handicapping contest world has seen the name Dylan Donnelly at or near the top of seemingly every major leaderboard these last few months. He’s beaten me more than a few times, and my guess is he has beaten you too. Ranked #2 on the NHC Tour leaderboard heading into this past weekend, he’ll very possibly be #1 when the new rankings come out later this week after another strong showing in an NHC qualifier that isn’t yet reflected in the standings. (No, I am not going to take the time to calculate points for everyone in the Top 10 to figure out if he’ll be #1 or #2. Be patient.)
LoneSpeed (aka me) reached out to Dylan this week for an interview, and he agreed. Here is the transcript, as well as a picture that I stole from the NTRA feature on Dylan a few days ago…
How long have you been competing in handicapping contests?
I’ve been competing in online handicapping contests for about 5 years now.
How would you describe your handicapping approach?
My approach to handicapping is that every horse in a race does not have to run that day if they don’t want to. They’re not machines and sometimes they have off days. No matter the barn they’re from (unless it’s from a Servis or Navarro barn) or their odds.
Without giving away too many of your secrets, are you a trip handicapper, a numbers guy, do you use a specific product, etc?
I use a mixture of different types of handicapping tools. I watch a ton of race replays and I have notes on a lot of horses that are in training. I go back after that day’s racing and I write trip notes from every race at a specific track that I was playing.
Is there a specific contest format you prefer?
I have dabbled in lots of different types of contest formats. From Survivor, heads up, winner take all formats, and big field cash contests. I’ve gotten more into heads up contests lately and as long as you win at more than a 55% clip you can make a profit.
I see you were recently married. It seems like you had a lot of success right around the time you were married. How do you juggle family and handicapping?
I am very, very lucky that my wife understands that I treat this as a business and a career. She knows I’m trying to win the NHC tour this year and she’s very accepting of the life I’ve chosen.
In the NHC profile they did on you, you mentioned you were in an accident and are now in a wheelchair, and I read you are in physical therapy. Can you talk about the impact the accident had on your life and your focus on horses? You seem to have a wonderful family. And you all look very happy in the pictures.
Well it’s hard to sugar coat it but the accident sucked. I was very active with playing all types of sports even as a young adult. But since I’ve gotten more into a routine with physical therapy and moved into a new house with my wife and son, I’ve been more able to have a set schedule and focus my time on studying properly.
I think a lot of people who read your profile will feel like you are someone they want to root for in life. How is therapy going? What’s next for you in your recovery?
My recovery is going well. I am super lucky with the progress I have made in three years. I am now able to stand up on my own and take some steps, whether it’s with my walker or my arm crutches. I will continue to go to physical therapy three days a week and work towards walking everywhere I go whether it’s takes 5 years or 15 years.