Vernon Downs has named Michael Chamberlain its lead racecaller, as legendary announcer Jim Moran will retire after a half century in the broadcast box.
Announcer Emeritus Moran, a member of the Harness Racing Hall of Fame’s Communicators’ Corner, will call his final race at Vernon Downs to kick off the Opening Night program on Friday, April 11. The evening, capping a 50-year legacy of Moran's describing the races at Vernon, will be a celebration of what Moran brought to the central New York track, with a poster giveaway, tributes, and a meet-and-greet throughout the card.
Moran’s successor, Michael Chamberlain, is a 43-year-old New Jersey native who has established himself well as a sports broadcaster – in horse racing and otherwise – since having earned a degree in broadcasting from Arizona State University in 1994. After a stint as the colour commentator for the IHL Phoenix Roadrunners, Chamberlain served as the track announcer at Sam Houston Race Park for 12 years before assuming a similar role at Turf Paradise in Phoenix in 2009. He has also called races at Lincoln Race Course in Nebraska and Fair Meadows in Oklahoma.
"I am incredibly excited to be coming to Vernon Downs,” said Chamberlain, who will assume the microphone in early May after Turf Paradise concludes its season. “Succeeding a legend like Jim Moran will be difficult, but it will be an honour for me to follow in his footsteps.”
With Chamberlain maintaining his winter base in the Valley of the Sun and returning to Turf Paradise for its fall opening, Tioga racecaller James Witherite and Vernon director of racing Scott Warren will describe the beginning and end of the Vernon meet in his stead. While he may be new to calling harness racing, Chamberlain has long been a fan of the trotters and pacers, and looks forward to bellowing his signature ‘They Are Off!’ sendoff at the central New York oval.
“Coming to Vernon will bring me back to my eastern roots,” continued Chamberlain. “As a northern New Jersey native, I have always enjoyed harness racing and look forward to being part of it from now on."
Post time for the first of 90 cards at Vernon Downs is slated for 6:45 p.m. (ET).