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Thursday, April 26, 2007

And Out The Door He Goes!

- Veteran track announcer Dave Johnson has called the Derby either on TV - on ABC for many years - or, more recently, on the Westwood One radio network every year since 1977...up to this year. Churchill Downs transferred the race to ESPN Radio this year, and I guess ESPN likes to put their own announcing stamp on their new racing properties. Hopefully this decision will turn out better than the Breeders Cup did.

"I will be home in my living room, and happy that I will not have to battle the zoo at the track and the traffic back to my hotel." Or so Johnson told the Toronto Globe and Mail. (He also says of ESPN's decision to replace him: "I don't agree with it.")

Johnson called the races at NYRA in the 70's, and man, he was in his prime back then, and to this day, I think he was, during that time, the best I've ever heard. He was a young guy with the kind of youthful enthusiasm that I found to be infectious. As I related in a now nearly two-year old post, it was his race calls that I listened to on the album Secretariat - Horse of the Century that helped get me into thoroughbreds at a time when I was strictly a harness guy. (And I still need to find that record, I know it's here someplace.) The best calls were races that Secretariat lost - to Onion in the Whitney, and to Prove Out in the Woodward. "ALLEN JERKENS DOES IT AGAIN!" Johnson exclaimed as the latter headed to victory. Alas, I couldn't find that race on You Tube, but there is some video of Big Red there in addition to the Belmont. Since I wrote about the Poly-to-turf angle before, I thought I'd post the video of Secretariat winning the Man O'War at Belmont in his first turf start. Dave Johnson with the call.


Brett said...

Dave Johnson was awesome. It's a shame the four letter word needs to butt their head in on anything that is good.


Neal Watzman said...

Thanks for the video. What a performance by Secretariat as well as an excellent call by Dave Johnson. I was reminded once again, what a great horse Big Red was.

This was an excellent Dave Johnson, who stayed in the race and kept the excitement going. It seems that as he became more of a celebrity all of his race call was to set up his "down the stretch they come", whether it was needed or not.

Anonymous said...

Secretariat's Belmont is the most incredible athletic achievement(not just horse racing achievement) I've ever seen.

Part of the mystique of it is Chick Anderson's call in which he said exactly the right thing, "Secretariat is like an incredible machine".

I never even knew Dave Johnson called the race

Alan Mann said...

The late Chic Anderson - who was pretty great in his own right - called Secretariat's Belmont for national TV, which I believe was CBS at the time.