XBTV Hosts & Handicappers
A native of the United Kingdom, Millie Ball is an integral member of XBTV’s on-air team. She is currently simulcast host at XBTV and was on air/ presenter at the recent 45th Annual Eclipse Awards. Ball worked as a host at HRTV from 2003 until 2015. In 2012, Ball worked for the NBC Sports Network in covering the Spiral Stakes from Turfway Park, and the West Virginia Derby from Mountaineer Park for Fox Sports Net. In 2007-08, she was on-site for the Virginia Derby at Colonial Downs for CBS’s coverage of the event. Ball has always been heavily involved in equestrian sports, riding competitively through Pony Club, and was on the junior National 3-Day Event team, then switched gears and began steeplechasing. Ball owns the distinction of being the only woman to win the Marlborough Cup Timber race. She worked for trainers Ian Balding (England) and John Hammond (France), who both were instrumental in transitioning her into flat racing. Her love of Thoroughbred racing began at that point, and she proceeded to race on the “flat” in England and France. In 1995, Ball arrived in California and began galloping horses for trainer Ian Jory, and over the next decade worked for three Hall Of Fame trainers: Bobby Frankel, Bob Baffert and Richard Mandella. Galloping horses for some of the sport’s premier conditioners took Ball across the country to many of racing’s greatest venues, including Saratoga, Fair Grounds, Keeneland, Churchill Downs, Belmont Park, Arlington Park, Gulfstream Park, and even to Hong Kong. She reprised that role this past summer, galloping and working horses for her husband, noted trainer Tim Yakteen. Aside for her extensive racing experience, Ball has also worked as a stunt woman (occasionally involving horses) for 10 years in national commercials, and prominent shows like CSI NY, CSI Miami, Mad Men, and Crank. In 2013, she worked with famed actress Bo Derek as a stunt double on an episode of CSI Miami entitled “The Last Straw.” She also had a small role in a movie about a losing Thoroughbred trainer called “And They’re Off,” which was released in October, 2012.
John DeSantis, aka Johnny D, originally hails from South Philadelphia, PA, and is a graduate of Occidental College. The Thoroughbred racing veteran broke his maiden in Southern California racetrack publicity departments in 1979. He departed the press box to work as agent for a variety of jockeys, including Sandy Hawley, Alex Solis, Fernando Toro and others. He also has paid the rent as a morning-line maker, journalist, television and radio host and racing official, and was a proud member of Santa Anita’s 1999 Eclipse Award winning broadcast team. Johnny D also served as executive director of the late Trudy McCaffery’s Kids to the Cup charity for six years. He has been with Xpressbet since its inception in 2002 and currently writes On Track, a weekly column at Xpressbet.com, and can be heard each Monday at 10 a.m. ET on At the Races with Steve Byk.
Jeff Siegel has been an active contributor to the thoroughbred industry for more than 40 years in various capacities, most notably as one of the most respected public handicappers in Southern California and as an on-air analyst and co-host for HRTV. Siegel’s daily selections have appeared in print in such publications as the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union Tribune and on line at xbtv.com and santaanita.com. He also created and developed such popular thoroughbred racing web sites as Handicapper’s Report and National Turf. As a host and writer, Siegel earned an Eclipse Award for outstanding local coverage in thoroughbred racing on television in 1999 for “The Best of Santa Anita.” During his 12-year tenure at HRTV, Siegel covered racing’s most prestigious events, including each of the Triple Crown races, the Breeders’ Cup, the Dubai World Cup and racing from Royal Ascot. Siegel also has been one of the sport’s most successful owners, having co-founded, owned, and served as Vice-President/Racing for Team Valor and its predecessor, Clover Racing Stable. During his 20-year involvement, the organization became the most prolific general partnership stable in North America, winning more than 100 stakes races (including 20 Grade-1’s) while amassing purses in excess of $50 million.
Aaron Vecruysse has held many positions since arriving at Santa Anita in 2001. Through his roles as Director of Simulcasting for all Stronach Tracks to Vice President of Business Development, Aaron developed a keen sense of the racing business. This business sense was in addition to his sophisticated handicapping and betting knowledge as demonstrated when he created the popular Magna 5 wager. In 2004, Aaron became on-air talent at HRTV, and his role expanded annually. He hosted such shows as Against the Odds, The Player and Westrock Coffee First Call. His 360 degree view of racing is as unique as his long-shot handicapping style, which is summed up by his motto “bet a little, win a lot.” Aaron has served on the Board of Directors for TrackNet, consulted for the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC) on all racing affairs, and recently attended the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC), which consists of the best handicappers in the country.