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Feb 22, 2013

Blacker back at HRTV

By: By Michael Fenrich, Contributing Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In many professions, people sometimes go back to where they started. As people go from job to job, they bring their past experiences to the new job.

For horse racing analyst Christina Olivares Blacker, she began her career at The Network for Horse Sports, or HRTV.

"HRTV was my first 'real job' in television," Blacker said.

"I had interned for MTV and 'Extra' during my sophomore and junior years of college, but was frustrated in a big company that wouldn't allow the interns to have much responsibility. All I really did at those jobs was log tapes and sort mail."

"When HRTV hired me, they gave me tasks that actually impacted the broadcast and I was thrilled. I was mostly a feature producer and would work on small stories and profiles.

"I took on more responsibility after my first year and produced the countdown shows 'Target Louisville' and 'Pursuit to the Cup'," Blacker added. "I also did some reporting on air on occasion, I was able to put in to practice the lessons I had been studying at the USC journalism school for the last four years."

Christina, who interned and worked her way through college, shares her advice to future students who want to begin a career in sports media.

"I think my advice would be the same for women and men that want to work in sports television. Do your research. Show up early. Be prepared. Cover all your bases. And remember that at all times you are representation of your network," Blacker noted.

After her first stint at HRTV, Blacker went to the other horse racing channel, TVG.

"When I moved to TVG, I had about two and a half years of experience working full-time for a TV station under my belt," Blacker said. "My position at TVG was as a full-time reporter and having spent time producing at HRTV, I truly understood every step of the process of putting together a cohesive show.

"I could go out and film with the cameraman knowing what the producers were looking for."

A lot of times there are favorite moments that people have from their previous employment as Blacker recalls her favorite moments at TVG.

"Probably 'The Works' shows," Blacker said. "Those days were some of the longest and most difficult, but that show is so exciting and comes together so quickly. I enjoyed the fast-paced nature of putting it together.

"I also love the time spent at out at the barn in the morning, which was a big part of news gathering for 'The Works'," she said.

"I also loved my time on the road. I spent the fall meet in New York one season working at Belmont Park and the spring meet at Monmouth in New Jersey as well as a winter in Florida. It's much more fun to live somewhere for a few months and really immerse yourself in the racing and community there than it is on the odd weekend trip. I have a much better feeling for how those circuits work for having spent such a good amount of time there."

Also at TVG, Christina met someone special while on assignment - her husband, trainer Dan Blacker, who works out of California.

"I met Dan on an October morning while out on assignment for TVG. I was instructed to go to Richard Mandella's Santa Anita barn and interview various members of his team," Christina said. "At the time, Dan was Richard's assistant. We went out on our first date a few days later and they say, the rest is history.

"We are very fortunate to work in the same industry. Horse racing is more of a lifestyle than a job and we appreciate the schedule and sacrifices that we each have to make to be successful."

Would the situation arise that Christina would have to interview Dan?

"I have interviewed Dan several times actually and we both treat the situation as professionals," she said. "We each have a job to do and we respect that without letting our personal relationship get in the way. Dan is very well spoken and good at explaining the process of training racehorses. He's also very witty ... he could do my job a lot better than I could do his."

Christina comes from a racing background. Her father Frank Olivares was a jockey and trainer. They spent a lot of quality time when she younger as she assisted her father at the stable.

"I hot walked and rode the pony on the track when I was old enough. My time at the barn taught me a lot about racing and the discipline it takes to work in this industry," Blacker said. "I loved being around horses and had always ridden jumpers since I was a kid, so getting to know the thoroughbreds in my teens was really my first introduction to racing in a hands-on way."

Olivares has now come full circle in her career. She's back at HRTV.

"I look up to a lot of people in racing. At HRTV, I have learned so much as a racing analyst from listening to Jeff Siegel. I admire Randy Moss not only for his delivery but amazing amount of preparation that he puts in to each show. I also admire the trainers and jockeys that sacrifice so much for this sport and our horses."

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