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COSA TV: 'Race Callers Roundtable'

Published: March 25, 2020 5:22 pm ET

Last Comment: December 4, 2020 1:15 pm ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

On Wednesday (March 25), Greg Blanchard conducted an interview with a pair of popular racetrack announcers — Ken Middleton and Shannon 'Sugar' Doyle — which was streamed on COSA TV.

The trio discussed what they're up to with no live harness racing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, favourite race calls, memories and more.

Despite racing having been dark in Ontario for close to a week, both Doyle and Middleton have remained active.

"I've been out for quite a few solo walks around the neighbourhood," said Doyle, a Prince Edward Island native who calls the races at The Raceway at the Western Fair District.

"I bought a new property in the fall, so that's keeping me busy, and I've got two two-year-olds in training," said Middleton, who manages a small stable in addition to his commentary duties at Woodbine Mohawk Park. "I've been busy putting up stalls ... there's always something to do."

Both veteran broadcasters also discussed the chance opportunities that led to their respective racecalling careers:

"My parents were involved in racing, so I was always subjected to it," Middleton explained. "I cut grass, I cleaned stalls — I always liked working and being outside. But the race calling ... Finishing up high school back in Elmira (Ont.), and it was getting just a few weeks before the season at Elmira Raceway. They needed somebody, and people encouraged me to do it. I went up, and away we went. I fell into it, so to speak."

Doyle similarly caught the bug at a young age.

"My mom walked me into the track when I was 10 years old, and I was hooked immediately," he explained. "From there, I just became a huge fan. A job opportunity came up for an announcer in Edmonton, Alta. It was the winter of 2006, Northlands Park. I knew I could call a horse race; I just needed the opportunity. I thought it was only going to be just a few months — I had my job at Revenue Canada waiting for me just in case, but here we are 15 years later."

Not only has Doyle called harness racing, but he has also described Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing in Alberta and at Fort Erie.

"I welcomed the opportunity," Doyle recounts. "I had never seen a Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse race in person until I went to Alberta. I picked up a gig at Grande Prairie for the summer of 2008, and having never seen a live Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse race, I offered to call them for nothing, just to see if I could do it. It worked well. The next summer, I asked to get paid, and in 2010 Northlands Park offered me the full-time gig for Thoroughbred racing. That worked out well. It's a challenge."

Further anecdotes about races Middleton and Doyle experienced both as fans and as commentators — among other memories — were commonplace in the engaging piece, which continued for well over an hour.

The interview was conducted by Blanchard for COSA TV, and is available in its entirety here on the SC website as well as Facebook Live.

December 4, 2020 - 1:15 pmGreat trio of announcers -

Tim O'Connor SAID...

Great trio of announcers - each with a unique style.

March 27, 2020 - 6:21 pmI enjoyed listening and

I enjoyed listening and watching. Thank you for your time Sugar and Ken. Interesting and informative.

Janelle Scherbik

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