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Diakun Psyched For Bet Night Live

laura-diakun-sandy-hawley.jpg

Published: May 31, 2010 10:38 am ET

Last Comment: June 6, 2010 10:20 am ET | 15 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

When Bet Night Live debuts tonight from Mohawk Racetrack, The Score's Laura Diakun will be her normal inquisitive self as one of the show's full-time co-hosts on Monday and Wednesday nights.

Diakun should be familiar to harness racing fans from her role as the in-studio sports anchor during Race Night on The Score's interspersed highlight and update segments. In a recent interview with Trot Insider, Diakun described her position as on-air talent with The Score as a dream come true.

"I've always been a huge fan of sports, I actually started playing golf with my Dad when I was eight," said the 27-year-old Torontonian. "I just started paying more and more attention to sports the older I got. If I was bored, I'd watch a game and learn the rules myself. Plus ever since I was little, I wanted to be on TV in some capacity. I would always try and get in front of the camera - I was never very shy. But sports broadcasting was never something that I thought would actually happen to me."

While she was enrolled at University of Toronto and studying law, a family friend gave Diakun information on an intern position with The Score.

"I missed out on the deadline that year and kind of thought that was it, but the next term I tried again, got an interview and began working as an intern. That was six years ago! I'm really lucky to get to work at a place where you're encouraged to watch sports and talk about sports with 25 other people who like sports as much as you do. It's a great conversation starter!"

In that time, Laura's roles have included updating The Score's sports ticker, working in the newsroom as an assignment editor, assembling and voicing highlights and hosting the sports segment on Global News Toronto.

"I owe it all to hard work and to those people who saw potential in me and were willing to take a chance on someone with no experience."

As Senior Television Producer Rob Platts told Trot Radio last week, Diakun and WEG's Chad Rozema will co-host Bet Night Live. When subject matter gets overly technical, Diakun's job is to ask questions much like the ones viewers new to racing would ask.

"I can definitely relate to the casual viewer at home. I don't know a lot about horse racing but I'm willing to learn and I like asking questions and that's exactly what WEG's looking for in a host for this particular show," Diakun told Trot Insider. "Plus I was already familiar with the company and the hosts - so it seemed like a pretty good fit.

"The people I work with on Bet Night Live are so passionate about the sport (and so knowledgeable) that it's hard not to be a sponge and take in some of the information. I definitely am starting to get more familiar with the sport - that's for sure. I'm noticing articles and stories about horse racing everywhere since I started this new job! When there are articles in the newspaper about a particular jockey or a horse (especially in Canada) I actually know who they're talking about now," said Diakun with a laugh.

Even though most of her exposure prior to Race Night and Bet Night was the Kentucky Derby - which, according to Laura, is "the most exciting two minutes in sports" - Diakun can see the appeal of horse racing and hasn't ruled out owning a racehorse in the future.

"What's great about horse racing, especially from a bettors' perspective, is that you always have a chance to win - and there really is nothing more exciting than having your horse win a race! Even if it's just picking a horse for fun, you can really get into it. There are a lot of passionate and extremely knowledgeable people involved in the horse racing community and it's been really great to be a part of it."

After weeks of rehearsals, Diakun is eager for Bet Night Live to debut with the new format guaranteeing weekly prizes and a grand prize trip to Las Vegas.

"I'm really excited for the show to hit the air. A lot of people have put a lot of work into Bet Night Live and I'm honoured to be involved with it," said Diakun. "It's going to be great for the audience to have horse racing back on The Score and it's a totally different show than Race Night. And really, who doesn't want a chance to win money? Chad and I (along with all the other hosts/analysts) get along great - and we have a lot of fun doing the show. Hopefully that comes across on screen."

June 6, 2010 - 10:20 amI watched bet night live and

John Carter SAID...

I watched bet night live and was on the fence about the new format and i guess it does need to be given a chance to evolve. In my opinion the race game is going to continue to decline in the next 10 to 20 years to the point of almost nonexistence and there will be lots of reasons you will be able to point the finger at way before the format of a show that at least gets the product on the air.

Now having said that if bet night live is truly interested in educating new people about the race game then why don't they do a complete job by, i don't know, lets say also educate newbies about the excessive track takeout in all pools when compared to other forms of gambling such as sports or poker. This way the newbie can make a more informed decision as to wether or not he will get a fair shake with his hard earned dollar.

June 5, 2010 - 3:47 pmI didn't see Mondays show

Randy Young SAID...

I didn't see Mondays show but by the posted comments it appears to need some fine tuning. We definitely need to promote more interest in Harness Racing and bring in new fans but I'm not sure this is the way. They seem to be trying to appeal to the mindless casino players who throw their quarters or dollars into the slot machines and hope for the best - rather then the sports bettors or Texas Holdem players who like the challenge of making an intelligent bet.

As a resident of Northern Ontario let me also say this ........
How nice to see that the Score's new Horse Racing Contest is available to only those with an HPI account or those who are able to attain one - effectively making Northern Ontario horse racing fans ineligible.
Maybe the Ontario Government should deny us access to Lotto 649 and Proline as well !
After all these years Sudbury Downs has apparently applied to obtain Account Wagering for Northern Ontario but it appears that their commitment is suspect since that are only "Testing" it for certain areas.
The CPMA's Framework Review proposals would have resolved this issue. In fact the proposals included several changes that are long overdue. Unfortunately the majority of horse racing fans have already assumed that the Framework review proposals are a dead issue - and that all of the time and tax payers money that went into developing them were for nothing.
The last update on the CPMA's website is from "March 5, 2008" I would think that at the very least , horse racing fans deserve to know the truth.
............. and we wonder why the survival of Horse Racing is in jeopardy.
It's outdated policies and regulations like the one applicable to account wagering that is driving horse racing fans to other forms of entertainment.

June 4, 2010 - 2:33 pmI must say the new Bet Night

I must say the new Bet Night Live was NOT worth waiting for. Too many people, babbling about the fact they are not familiar with harness racing, telling non-horse players how to wager??? Come on!

As an avid fan of Score Race Night, I listened and watched something that was/will not be on my list of things to watch unless it is re-worked.Too many people giving too little of what matters to the viewers. Try a kiosk on your main floor to teach people how to wager - we viewers do not care!

The old format WAS NOT BROKEN and WEG certainly DID NOT FIX it.Alienation of viewers - you did that.The DART BOARD is absurd and info by knoweldgeable harness racing personnell went out the window. Send Mr. Hawley back to Wednesday nights, where he excels and bring back full post parades with proper pronounciation of horses and drivers(NOT Riders)names, short interviews with conditioners/trainers, post interviews with winning drivers and fill in's on up and coming young horses, video shorts on breeding farms and great sire's.Also up-dates on retired greats, such as Admirals Express, a fan favourite.And don't forget the new stables (ALLARDS) and young driver profiles(Scot Zeron)etc.

Return Renee Kierans and/or Elissa Blowe for informative commentating or put the great Ron Waples or any number of other driver/trainers on for 2 hours to talk about anything and everything they know to fill the air time. That would be worth watching. Please downsize crew and put harness racing back on Score T.V.

June 4, 2010 - 10:35 amI agree Liz on the how to

I agree Liz on the how to choose the right horse. The part when Laura threw a dart to pick a horse was ridiculous. It gives the impression that they do cheat and fix races if all you do is throw a dart to pick a horse. Yes, I understand they are trying to add some fun on the broadcast but thta gives a bad impression to the new comers you are trying to seek.

Show how to read a programme, what the past performance means, the effect of horses that may come from a different track have...

They may have got people to sign up on HPI, BUT how many will invest more after the 24 dollars they gave them runs out?That is the big question.

June 4, 2010 - 10:06 amI liked the new format quite

Dean Towers SAID...

I liked the new format quite a bit. There is no used wasting (and paying oodles for) airtime speaking to people like me who have played the game since I was 7 or 8. Most insiders or bettors are using HPITV to play, or watching the track feed at home, or at simulcast centres. Speaking to us is not expanding a market, it is simply preaching to a choir.

I caught the first race when flipping over on Monday and Blanchard hit a $70 ex with a nice $1 backwheel. If I was a newbie watching, that would mean something to me.

I was also impressed with the name change. For years it was almost like "bet" was a curse word. It is pretty strange for a sport that without betting we as owners would be racing for a $50 gift certificate from somewhere and a cooler, to avoid that word. It is about time we tried it.

Anyhow, kudos to Woodbine for at least trying to do away with stories about a feed man from Guelph that they used to do on the old telecast. We're a gambling business, so let's gamble.

June 3, 2010 - 8:47 pmI was hoping for this new

LIZ THERRIEN SAID...

I was hoping for this new approach to do well but as I suspected, judging from the comments here, you have managed to alienate all your old viewers and I don't hold out much hope for attracting new ones either. I turned it off after 30 minutes.

Really - a lot of the enjoyment of betting on horses is knowing how to choose the right one based on driver, trainer, past performance, pedigree, etc. If all you're going to do is pick names and numbers you might as well play the lotto or the slots. People need to understand horse racing like they do hockey, baseball or soccer in order to want to bet on it. A bunch of self proclaimed novices teaching other novices how to bet is ludicrous. I'm guessing that, like a lot of other things i really enjoyed, harness racing too will shortly disappear from my tv screen.

June 3, 2010 - 3:54 pmThat had to be the worst

That had to be the worst presentation last night of racing. I am sorry but if you think this did anything for the sport other then degrade it you are mistaken. After a while I had to turn it off(I never turned off the Race Night Show) Chad and Greg were as usual very good. Laura was tollerable but not very good. The 2 people from the Score were terrible. They need to go.

I thought this was to help be informative about racing. When the gentleman from the score asked the woman WHAT A GELDING WAS (an informative question to the public) and her answer being she is not sure if she could talk about this on TV ..that did it for me. What are we children watching and not mature enough for her to easily explain that some horses are castrated to keep their attention on racing rather then having their minds on other things.

Sandy Hawley may be a very good thorougbred horse person but not standardbred. His interviews were terrible because he is not familar with standardbred racing and did not know the proper questions to ask to get informative info.

I suggest you change this fast or else the ratings will go down very fast. Speaking with 2 others during and after the show we all had the same feeling.
It was more a mockery of the sport rather then informative. Even the betting explanations were terrible. If I did not know anything about horse racing before the show I would have come away being more mixed up and less interested then prior to watching Bet Night.

Sorry gentlemen...this is a huge mistake and hopefully it will be corrected much sooner then later!!! At least 3 people need to go and bring on those who KNOW standardbreds and understand BETTING and RACING

June 3, 2010 - 1:58 pmI have to admit I tend to

I have to admit I tend to agree with the comments here BUT having spent considerable time in media, I know well that every new idea needs some time to work out the bugs. (I'm sure I embarrassed myself in trying to master the sport of the Stampede my first year in Calgary!!)

Just because the first show didn't measure up, doesn't mean that those involved won't evolve on the fly. The change was to swing the show more to betting and new bettors, so they needed to work out how that might look, before they can fine tune. Sandy Hawley may well be the diamond in the rough. It was amazing the respect that the standardbred drivers showed for the legendary jockey. As Sandy becomes more comfortable in the media role, the insights he urges from drivers may well be brilliant. I'm going to try watching in small doses over the next few weeks and look for improvements. As for the chances of me putting up 24 dollars of my own cash to participate, don't hold your breath waiting.

June 3, 2010 - 1:35 pmPlease bring back the old

James Budd SAID...

Please bring back the old format.The only people who want to watch the show are real Harness Racing fans.The new show is painful to watch and will lose more viewers than it will gain.Fortunately,at least,there is some live racing during the show.Does Harness Racing not respectfully deserve to have one of it's own as an MC.Sandy Hawley was one of the greatest jockeys at one time but do the new young people who you are trying to attract even know or care who he is ? Harness Racing should rest on it's own merits and not be " dumbed down " to try and attract people who don't care if it lives or dies .

June 1, 2010 - 8:54 pmWay too much studio stuff

GLEN HOBIN SAID...

Way too much studio stuff with inexperienced people knowing nothing about harness racing, should have been more on-track interaction and paddock interviews.
Felt like I was in a classroom learning how to bet exactas.

June 1, 2010 - 3:28 pmI too watched this show, I

Tim Wilson SAID...

I too watched this show, I was very disapointed with the new format. I had to turn it off after 30 minutes of watching. I realize the need to draw bettors and to educate new ones, but it just simply was too much! This show now has nothing to do with horse racing or the love of the sport (which I have been involved with for 25 years) It is now strictly about betting and how many types of bets you can make. I for one would not want the only attraction to harness racing to be betting. I am not a fool, I realize it is a major component and without it we would not have racing, but should it really be the focal point in a two hour broadcast. This show has turned into an extended play infomercial for WEG. I will not tune in again, not until they go back to the old format, and with individuals that actually have knowledge of harness racing. What a shame too, I love watching races from Mohawk.

June 1, 2010 - 2:03 pmwell i thought i'd give the

well i thought i'd give the new format a shot...i'm already an HPI member so i thought i'd use my husbands info to join and take advantage of the 24 dollar credit for new members. The application asked for a social insurance # and/or drivers lic #...apparently to do a credit check...needless to say the application was denied...so i hope the "casual" bettor has good credit...ridiculous :(

So then i watched the show and after the first 15 minutes of useless/nervous babble and then seeing Laura picking a "winner" by throwing a dart at a dartboard HELD by Chad... that was it for me...novice to say the least. Even the cameraman didn't know what was going on...the horse they were talking about was never the one the cameraman was showing...very annoying

There was even less info about the horses too...why they didn't show all the post parades and use that airtime to give the viewer some helpful info about the horses, is beyond me.

The old format was way, WAY more informative...and ya, Sandy is ok wednesdays with the thoroughbreds, but seemed lost with the trainers and drivers of standardbreds. Why not get a retired standardbred driver who knows, and is known, by the people he interviews..Ron Waples would be perfect.

Educating people on HOW to make a bet(which shouldn't take long) is useless without providing useful info as to WHY you should make the bet.

June 1, 2010 - 1:44 pmI agree with everything

I agree with everything Brian has said. You have 6 on air people and 4 of them with very little or no Standardbred experience and it shows. Amatuerish at best. I will give it one more try next Monday but if it's like what just went down, you've lost another viewer.

June 1, 2010 - 1:16 pmI am in favour of ANYTHING

I am in favour of ANYTHING that will promote harness racing and I applaude WEG for trying...but I agree with Brian...it was silly, childish and amateurish. The best part of the program was Sandy Hawley--yes, Brian, maybe the questions were "predictable" but I did like him asking who the competition was; at least he was professional. I didn't think he did enough interviews especially with the winning driver. One point: if betting is being promoted then please show the post parade--I believe the PP was only featured twice. Greg and Chad are generally good but the others' inane behaviour made them look silly as well. Who are those two at the Score studio--for petey's sake!! Randy Waples was refreshing as always.

June 1, 2010 - 8:50 amsays I know your mandate is

says I know your mandate is to increase the bet through knowledge BUT I thought the initial program was very novice to say the least..Too much giddyness and too much mundane air!I have talked to at least 9 others and all have had the same opinion. I would say good try but back to the drawing board.
Not enough interviews with horsemen and their thoughts..as far as Sandy is concerned ..He asked the obvious questions..Next!


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