Day At The Track

USA's 12-year-old harness racing whiz kid

04:13 PM 02 Aug 2011 NZST
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Ray Cotolo (designer) Ray Cotolo (middle) saxaphonist Ray Cotolo Ray Cotolo's best book Ray Cotolo
Ray Cotolo (designer) - Has even designed his own colors
Ray Cotolo has even designed his own colors
Ray Cotolo (middle) saxaphonist
Ray Cotolo - Eats, breaths, lives and sleeps harness racing
Ray Cotolo's best book - Big Bum: The Story of Bret Hanover
Ray Cotolo - Harness racing's pre-teen genius
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I couldn't believe it when Ray Cotolo told me how old he was. For a young man born just prior to the start of the new millennium he sure does know a lot about harness racing. 'I gave out Fawkes in my blog and he was at big money and ran third in the Hambo elimination.

It’s an even crop for this year’s Hambletonian Final but if John Campbell is back in the bike then I think Opening Night could be the toughest to beat.

“You’ll find more on my blog:,” the knowledgeable 12-year-old told Harnesslink.

Yes 12! That’s right Harrisburg-born Cotolo has only been on this earth a dozen years but the seventh grader speaks racing lingo like a man five times his age.

The Lower Dauphin (Hummelstown PA) student eats, breaths, lives and sleeps harness racing. All he wants to do when he leaves school is work in the industry.

“At this stage I’m seriously thinking about becoming a harness racing journalist. But I’m also toying with the idea of becoming a driver or a trainer. No matter what I do I’m sure it will be something involved with harness racing.

“I just love the aggression and passion in the sport. And of course I really love horses. I have learnt everything I know from my Dad and I am so grateful to him for that,” young Cotolo said.

His father is racing journalist and handicapper Frank Cotolo. And as Ray put it – “I love being dad’s apprentice. He always teaches me new stuff and how to improve my writing. I owe him so much. He's the greatest!”

Ray has been a racing analyst for two years and a writer for one. As well as his regular blogs Ray also writes for such companies as Twinspires and the Hambletonian Society.

Ray is already preparing for his highlight event of the year – the $1.5 million Hambletonian at The Big M this Saturday (August 6).

“I was there last year – wow what a buzz – and I’ll be travelling the three hours with Dad to get there again on Saturday. I have seen a bunch of good horses in my life but I think Muscle Massive beating Lucky Chucky in last year's Hambo final was the greatest live race I’ve ever seen.

“I can’t wait for Saturday,” he said.

So what do his teachers and classmates think of him immersing himself at harness racing at such a young age?

“They think it’s cool that I get so involved in the sport. They are very supportive,” said Ray who is currently on his summer break that doesn’t return to school until August 29.

But Ray insists he has a long way to go to be as good as his Dad or Bob Heyden.

“Wow if I had one thousandth of the knowledge that Hollywood Heyden has then I’d be happy. I’ve got a lot of stuff to learn and I’m prepared to do that. You have to remember I’m still only 12,” he stressed.

He said he enjoyed all aspects of harness racing but never wanted to bet.

“I like handicapping. I like telling people who I think will win but I am not a bettor and have no intentions of gambling. I want to work for a living.”

At the completion of this interview Harnesslink offered young Cotolo some writing space on our website. He replied:

“That would be great. I read your website all the time. I’ll be filing something through with Dad on Hambletonian Day – how’s that?”

I (editor) reckon that’s worth waiting for - and I also reckon this pre-teen has the harness racing world at his feet.

Wow – what an interview – this kid really blew me away! He is a credit to you Frank and Kristin Cotolo – a real gem before his time.

Some of Ray’s other interests include:

Favourite Films:

· The Simpsons Movie

· 3

· 000 BC

· Secretariat

· Seabiscuit

· Goodfellas.

Favourite Music:

· Bob Dylan

· The Beatles

· The Beach Boys

· Green Day.

Favourite Book:

Big Bum: The Story of Bret Hanover.

By Duane RANGER (editor)

Muscle Massive winning last year’s Hambletonian at The Meadowlands.

Ray Cotolo was trackside to watch his highlight event of the year.


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