Lady and The Track | November 30, 2022

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Home » Derby Culture » Esquire Horseplayer Kevin “Cowboy” Cox Interview

Esquire Horseplayer Kevin “Cowboy” Cox Interview

Esquire Network has opened up the world of horse racing and handicapping in the new show Horseplayers.  Viewers have been introduced to big names and newbies alike in the handicapping world.  They all come from different backgrounds, are of different ages, and each have their own unique abilities and personalities. Kevin Cox, or “Cowboy Cox” as he is referred to because he sports a wide brimmed cow boy hat at racing events, is introduced in episode 3. In his debut episode, Cox has proven to be a stand out character as he certainly does not lack in confidence or skill starting off his season of Horseplayers with a big win at Belmont Park beating out old pros like Team Rotondo and John Conte. Lady and The Track got the privilege of seeing what is behind the trademark Stetson and got an inside glimpse into who handicapper Kevin Cox really is.  One thing is for sure, Kevin Cox is every bit as dynamic off screen as he is on!

Kevin Cox Horseplayer Esqiure

Esquire Horseplayer and handicapper for Saratoga Bets, Kevin Cox (pictured above) patrolling the streets of New York in 2009 before retiring in 2011.

Lady and the Track: How did you get into handicapping/horse racing?
Kevin Cox:  My family, of course! I still have old, yellow, tattered copies of my fathers’ racing form from 30-35 years ago. (Replete with legal pad inserts of “systems” he worked on through the years!) On Thanksgiving, he, my Uncle Artie, and my “Poppa” (grandfather) would go to the track while supper was being prepared. ) One year the train was late coming home—–oh boyyyyyy. I made sure they each got a Racing Form placed in their coffin, years later.)

LATT: What is your strategy for winning? Do you go by a gut feeling or do you like to look at the statistics?
Cox: I am mainly a Racing Form guy, and study the Beyer Speed Figures in The Form. Those figures are based on how fast the track is that day, class of the race, and time. I try to avoid gut feelings—they usually get me in trouble!

LATT: Do you like the excitement of not knowing the outcome of a bet?
Cox: I am an online chess addict, and to me, each horserace is like a chess board before the first move—clean, uninterrupted, and full of possibilities!  I love it!!!

LATT: How do you decide how much to bet on a horse?
Cox: I usually take the figures from the Racing Form, and then put my own spin on things. If you don’t do that, then you’re merely using the EXACT same info everyone else has. Sometimes I like picking losers—if you pick losers in a race, it makes it easier to pick the winner!

LATT: Do you have any rituals that you always do for the races?
Cox: If I’m in my “man cave” during an important race, sometimes I’ll grab a whip I keep by my desk—stay clear!

LATT: Do you believe in luck or have any good luck charms?
Cox: There’s no such thing as luck, unless I lose—then it’s all bad. When I win—-it’s skill!!!

LATT: Where did you grow up?
Cox: I grew up in the center of the world—Brooklyn N.Y! [I] Moved to Long Island at 25, and after my recent successes, bought a 2nd home in Saratoga Springs (just blocks from the track!)

LATT: What made you decide to make handicapping your full time career?
Cox:  After I retired from 20 years in the N.Y.P.D.  (I was in the Mounted unit and rode a grandson of Kentucky Derby Winner, Northern Dancer in Times Square!), I decided to become a jockey agent and then decided to be “master of my own domain”, and stick to what I know best—Horseplaying!  I was the 3rd best handicapper on the National Handicappers Tour this year, and qualified to the finals in Vegas. Next year, we take it down!

LATT: Where do you get all of your confidence from?
Cox:  Actually, my last name IS confidence—I merely shortened it to Cox! Listen, in this game you damn well BETTER be sure of yourself, or else you get your head handed to ya’!

LATT: How do you handle the pressure at each race and deal with the competition?
Cox:  The pressure was tough early on, as I wasn’t completely liquid, and a loss would truly hurt. As I continue to play more and more, I’m generally able to handle it with great aplomb—but I have my moments! As for my competition, I live by a quote from my Dad’s favorite movie, The Hustler, when Paul Newman says to Jackie Gleason: “I’m the best you’ve ever seen Fats, the best. And even if you beat me, I’m still the best.”

As Lady and The Track readers can tell, Kevin Cox has all the confidence in the world and he steps into handicapping knowing that he can be the best. In fact aside from competitive handicapping, Cox puts his confidence and knowledge to good use partnering with Saratoga Bets ( Cox handicaps the premier winter meet, Gulfstream, on the weekends (Fridays through Sundays).  He gives selections and individual race analysis, sometimes even with a funny spin. There is even a chat room beneath Cox’s picks where he answers questions and his picks are free, even if people do not subscribe. As Cox describes it, “Saratoga Bets is a wagering platform where you can deposit a couple of bucks and bet any race in the country. There are many of these out there, but what I love about them is their interface is appealing to the eye, they give excellent DAILY rebates on what you bet, not everyone does that, there are live race videos and replays, FREE cash contests, and merchandise giveaways. It’s compatible for most states, and you’d have to check it out!” Cox is “all about bringing new fans on board…there’s no such thing as a bad question!!”

Cox also puts his time and skill to good use working closely horse retirement charities. In fact, he came up with “Match the Cowboy Month.”  As Cox puts it this “is an idea I came up with to give back to the horse racing related charities that are near and dear to me. For the month of February, I am matching up to $500 to two extremely worthwhile organizations. One is the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, which I had donations sent to, in lieu of flowers after my dad passed; and the other is Old Friends of which I was the first official donor! Both organizations aim to take retired race horses into a safe place after their careers are over, so that they can live out their remaining days in dignity and comfort. Horse slaughter is a hot issue in this country, and these organizations help to ensure their safety. There’s MUCH more to these organizations, such as rehabilitating prisoners, educating the public, and more. I wholeheartedly recommend you check ’em out!  Remember, if you can afford to bet on ’em—you can afford to lend a helping hoof!”

No doubt, as Horseplayers continues to air, Cox will continue to stand out as a handicapper, with big confidence, big wins, and a big personality, but perhaps the most stand out thing that Cox does is give back.

To find out how to give back to the charities Kevin Cox is involved in check out:
Old Friends Equine
Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation

Also, to follow Cox check out: Facebook, or Twitter @ brooklyncowboy1.

Horseplayers airs on Tuesdays at 10:00 PM EST on the Esquire Network.

Related Links:
Horseplayers Episode 1
Horseplayers Episode 2
Horseplayers Episode 3