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Jeff Porchak's Blog


Celebrity Announcer Idol

Published: August 19, 2009 8:30 pm ET

Last Comment: September 18, 2009 12:03 am ET | 6 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

I recently watched the race replay of celebrity chef Bobby Flay calling a race at Saratoga Racecourse. For a chef, he did a decent job but I would admittedly prefer his throwdown spaghetti and meatballs to his stretch calls.

This made me wonder who the voices of harness racing would like to hear call a race. I contacted a bunch of the best standardbred racecallers for their thoughts on who they would love to hear. As you can see, quite a few of these guys think alike.

Feel free to add your comments at the end of the article on who you think would be great behind the mic.

Norm Borg, Rideau Carleton Raceway
Being a baseball fan, it would have to be Yogi Berra. People would still be laughing two races later. Could you imagine...
"They’re off and the field is into the first turn...and they’ve taken it."
"...It’s Art Official closing in on Somebeachsomewhere. If Art Official wins it could wreck Beach’s win streak."
"...And it’s Muscle hill giving 100 percent. And if that doesn’t work he’ll give what’s left."
"What was the time of the mile? What time did they start?"

Vance Cameron, Charlottetown Driving Park and Summerside Raceway
Jim Carrey. It would be interesting to hear what he'd come up with, so witty. If John Candy was still alive, I'd choose him.

Chris Connor, Fredericton Raceway
It is a “dead-heat” between Neil Young and Gordon Lightfoot. Both are Canadian music icons with a talent for writing, and I would guess that each may have had some exposure to horse racing at some point. It is fun to imagine, given their unique voices, that they would present a creative style if asked to replace Kenny Middleton for one race on the big circuit. Maybe both Neil and Gordon could throw in a few lyrics during the race call, also.

Shannon 'Sugar' Doyle, Evergreen and Northlands Park
That's easy for me - Michael Buffer and his 'Let's get ready to rumble...' phrase would be an awesome choice for a celebrity racecaller. The way he leads up to announcing the competitors in a heavyweight title fight as well... could you imagine Buffer doing a post parade for one of our big races? He's got the voice and the tools that would make a race call memorable from start to finish.

Gary Guy, Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs and Grand River Raceway
Jim Carrey. He is a very animated sort that seems to have a wicked imagination. Honourable mention to Robin Williams, who would probably be a hoot as well. The horses would never go too fast for him. Both of these guys seem to have brains that function at a gear way above the norm.

Roger Huston, The Meadows and Delaware County Fair
I guess my choice would be Billy Crystal. He loves sports, primarily baseball, but I think he could do a real good race call and add a bit of flavor as well. I also think he would be game to try it.

Larry Lederman, Freehold Raceway
I would like to hear Jackie Mason. The guy is hilarious, thinks very fast on his feet and he flows. I think it would be great.

Sam McKee, The Meadowlands and The Red Mile
Probably Larry The Cable Guy. It would be like my buddy Larry Lederman on Amp!

Ken Middleton, Woodbine Entertainment
The late Rodney Dangerfield would have given a very colourful race call. All of his one liners combined with his horse association from the movie 'Easy Money' would have made his task that much easier. It would be a dead-heat for second between guys like Chris Rock, Sean Connery, Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell.

Frank Salive, (soon-to-be) Pompano Park
My top choices would be:
- William Shatner (can Captain Kirk put the hard sell on us like he does in those annoying commercials?!)
- Larry King (okay, why did you train, drive, judge, announce the horse that way?!)
- Dawn Lupul (savvy broadcaster, accomplished standardbred participant, a true race announcing talent just waiting to be discovered? step up in Woodstock anytime!)
- Barack Obama (and sitting friends, up to fourth...pause...his trademark pauses would add the drama...but could he announce a race without a teleprompter?! and, would he promise no new taxes?!)

Ken Warkentin, The Meadowlands
Anyone with a funny voice. Hulk Hogan, Randy Macho Man Savage or comedian Gilbert Gottfried.

James Witherite Rieg, Harrah's Chester
Believe it or not, I'd love to hear Trevor Denman call a harness race. He's simply brilliant at Santa Anita and Del Mar, but I've never heard him call the trotters.

September 18, 2009 - 12:03 amI like the Jim Carrey idea

I like the Jim Carrey idea the best, but Robin Williams would be a hoot too.. they are just so good at adlibbing.... how about ELMER FUDD though? "Wacing on the outside thowd is that Wascally Wabbit" hehehe

August 24, 2009 - 10:19 pmKeith, Forster Brooks has

Anne Stepien SAID...

Forster Brooks has been gone awhile (2001) but I like your Harvey Korman/Tim Conway idea. They were great in the racing movie "The Long Shot." Two other movies I highly recommend are "Let It Ride" (Richard Dreyfuss, Terri Garr, Robbie Coltrane and Jennifer Tilly) and "Easy Money." Easy Money was filmed at Pompano using horses and drivers that were racing there at the time and many backstretch people as extras. Rodney Dangerfield and Joe Pesci get a tip on a long shot...rush to the track to wager---and Bill Popfinger stiffs the horse! (Useless trivia: the horse Popfinger used in the movie was Mannart Glad Hand; my horse was the chestnut driven by Mickey McNichol (Kim Burt's Christy).

August 21, 2009 - 2:56 pmAt least Saratoga did not

Adam Mauntah SAID...

At least Saratoga did not invite that other celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay, to call a race. I can only imagine how that would have turned out!

Adam Mauntah

August 21, 2009 - 11:04 amI think the choice for races

I think the choice for races with eliminations would be the announcers who rapid-fire deliver the "fine print" in automobile leasing commercials on the radio. In this way, they could announce all three eliminations while the first one was still being conducted (and if I could hear clearly, in advance, the winner of the second and third eliminations, I could bet them and finally make some money at the races !)

August 20, 2009 - 1:25 pmThere are four I'd love to

Anne Stepien SAID...

There are four I'd love to hear:

Robin Williams---great sense of humor and a gift for impersonation

Jim Carrey---zany

Robert DeNiro---love his dead pan, dry humor and the way he plays a "heavy"

Leslie Nielsen----love his deadpan delivery and the way he stays in character when his character has to remain unaware of the hilarity going on around him

August 19, 2009 - 3:19 pmSome great suggestions -

Some great suggestions - this may date me, but why not harvey corman and tim conway together??? foster brooks might put a new spin on things . . .or not. In todays world wouldn't raj binder be the natural????

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