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Bill Murray Race Call Leads To Lawsuit

Published: April 7, 2019 4:55 pm ET

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It isn’t often that you hear the name ‘Bill Murray’ in association with horse racing. The legendary funnyman has been entertaining the masses for decades, years in which he has kept audiences howling from his endearing performances. Recently, ‘Bill Murray’ has been mentioned in the same vein as horse racing, oddly enough, and it’s unfortunately not for the most positive of reasons.

Okay, take a second… now breathe. It appears as though Bill is in the clear.

In late March, numerous media outlets reported that well known Thoroughbred announcer and personality Dave Johnson, 77, had filed a lawsuit against multiple entities, including the Weinstein Co., due to copyright infringement.

According to Johnson’s suit, his trademark phrase “and down the stretch they come” was used in the 2014 film ‘St. Vincent,’ which starred Murray. Johnson had trademarked the phrase, which has become ingrained in North American sporting culture, in 2012.


Murray, pictured taking it easy in St. Vincent.

Johnson’s suit has been directed at the producers and distributors of the film, which sees Murray take the screen alongside fellow Hollywood heavyweights Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard and others. Murray has not been named a defendant in Johnson’s lawsuit.

In the film, Murray’s character utters Johnson’s much-loved phrase as he is engaged in a wheelchair race with a young boy. Johnson has stated that he wasn’t aware that his trademarked phrase had even been used in the film. It took Johnson’s neighbour mentioning the reference in the movie for Johnson to know anything about it.

St. Vincent grossed over $54 million globally. Johnson is seeking unspecified damages. He has stated that if the ruling turns out in his favour, he will be donating the monies to horse racing-related charities, including an organization for injured jockeys.

“I’ve spent my whole life calling races, and that’s something I wanted to protect,” Johnson recently told Reuters. “It’s obviously mine. That’s my phrase.”

(With files from Reuters and The Blast)


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