Welcome to Should I Listen To This?, where we deep-dive into a podcast to find out what it’s about, what works, what doesn’t, and whether or not you need to make the all-important decision to hit subscribe and add it to your rotation.
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Podcast: In The Gate
What Is It?: Think Outside the Lines, but for horse racing. I know, just go with me here. It’s a weekly (sometimes more often) podcast all about the thoroughbreds. Aside from the horses themselves, episodes have focused on the business of horse racing, the day-to-day lives of those who own and work with race horses, and, of course, betting.
Who’s The Host?: Barry Abrams, an ESPN Feature producer by day, hosts and produces this podcast under the ESPN umbrella. His voice is perfect for radio and podcasts, which helps explain his Twitter handle of @BAbramsVoice.
What’s A Normal Episode Like?: Every episode begins with a cold open, read by Abrams. This is where the Outside the Lines comparisons begin. The prose is both well-written and well-read. Afterward, he either jumps into a guest interview or moderates a panel discussion.
The panels are where more OTL comparisons come to mind. Past panels have compared the business of horse racing to WWE and the effect of Brexit on the sport. Aside from the Triple Crown races, I don’t pay attention to horse racing, so these are topics I’ve never considered from this perspective. Abrams bounces around his many guests beautifully, segueing between them without anyone feeling under or overused.
The interviews are well done on Abrams’ end. While I’m not intrigued by owners talking about their current or former horses, it’s clear he does a lot of research. I’d say he knows horse racing like the back of his hand, but that would be understating his expertise.
There’s also a short betting segment on episodes, only about horse racing. If you’re looking for general sports betting, ESPN has a podcast for that called Behind The Bets.
At the end, Abrams gives a quick monologue about relevant news in the sport. This, like the cold open, is always high quality. The most recent monologue, about Irish jockeys and depression, deserves a larger investigation.
Who Is It For?: Obviously, this is for horse racing fans. That’s probably In The Gate‘s biggest Achilles heel.
Who Is It Not For?: Unless you want to hear people talk about horse racing, there’s little reason to listen.
How Many Episodes Are There?: There are 278 episodes as of this writing. While not released on a set schedule, there tends to be a new episode each week. Aside from being found on the usual podcast apps, the podcast is available on, of all places, YouTube.
Can I Jump Right In?: I’d recommend starting with the most recent panel discussion. If you like it, you’ll want to subscribe for those alone.
What’s Not Great?: It’s a very niche show with a niche audience. That’s the biggest thing working against In The Gate. Abrams is a great host for this show, but he won’t win you over if you don’t care about horse racing.
It also feels like Abrams dives too deep into his topics sometimes, jumping into puddles of minutiae that can muck up the flow of an interview. This can lead to long-winded questions full of tangents. Abrams also channels the New York Times in his interviews, referring to all guests by Mr./Miss/Ms./Mrs. and their last name.
I’d love to see the panels on TV. It’s tough keeping track of voices without faces, even if Abrams prefaces each person with his/her name. A lower third would alleviate this confusion and give this sport a national broadcasting outlet. I don’t see why a half hour, panel-focused show couldn’t work on NBCSN or ESPN3. Like I keep saying, make it Outside the Lines, but for horse racing.
So, Should I Listen To This?: This is the most personal decision I’ve had to make since I started writing these. Unlike the other shows I’ve reviewed, I’d never heard of In The Gate. It was an e-mail suggesting this show that piqued my interest. I’m going to stay subscribed because I enjoy hearing smart discussions about issues within the sports world. That said, I will not be listening to the interviews too often.
By this point, you’ve probably scrolled to the comments section to tell me something ridiculous, like “horse racing is rigged.” Unlike other sports podcasts, this is a simple decision to make: either you like horse racing, or you don’t. I’d be hard pressed to find any big issues, other than the niche subject.
Bottom Line – TL;DR: It’s a great podcast with the fatal flaw of being about horse racing. Unless you’re a fan of the sport, you probably won’t care about In The Gate.