It’s 11:30 am EST, 10:30 am Central time, and you heard it here at Past the Wire first. Historic Oaklawn Park in equally historic Hot Springs Arkansas, has hired their new track announcer, none other than Vic Stauffer.
Vic should fit right in at Oaklawn Park for many reasons and appears to be an excellent choice. First and foremost, Vic is a part of horse racing history, as is Oaklawn. Oaklawn made their name in the game, showcasing champion Thoroughbreds year after year and developing The Arkansas Derby into a major prep and stepping stone to The Kentucky Derby. It is arguably as good a place as any for a trainer to ready a quality three-year old for a Run for the Roses.
Vic Stauffer became a part of racing history in a different manner. When the time came for him to step up to the plate, he simply hit it out of the park.
“Stables that have housed racing immortals like Seabiscuit, Citation, Swaps, Native Diver, Affirmed, John Henry, Lava Man, and Zenyatta.” Sound familiar? It should as Vic immortalized himself with that call back on closing day at Hollywood Park, December 22, 2013. Hollywood Park opened January 10th,1938 and at the time nobody imagined 75 years later Vic Stauffer would call the last race there.
“Turn into the stretch for the final time past the lakes and flowers.”
“75 years comes down to 12 seconds”
“It comes down to a camera close up”
Those are quotes from the last race ever run at the also historic Hollywood Park. Vic’s call captured the drama of the event, and gave many racing fans goosebumps as we watched an institution in The Sport of Kings wave goodbye. Vic sent them away on a high note, no easy task given the circumstances, and there is little doubt he will bring a new level of excitement and style to Oaklawn Park, a venue draped in tradition and history.
There is also little doubt Vic will be calling his fair share of exciting stakes and equine stars during the Oaklawn meet. Oaklawn is due some luck with their track announcer who they treat like both an ambassador to the sport and member of their family. For many years they were lucky to have Terry Wallace who filled all roles to perfection and was an institution in the place.
When Terry retired ,Frank Mirahmadi was brought in, and had a nice two year run where he got to call a budding Triple Crown winner in American Pharoah. Frank jumped ship with just a few weeks until the meet opened, gambling he’d get the Santa Anita job, which he didn’t. It went to Michael Wrona. He was replaced by Peter Aiello, who was brought in from Gulfstream, and did a very good job. Larry Collmus left Gulfstream unexpectedly, and Peter was given the chance to stay at his home track throughout the year. This left an opening at Oaklawn, and I am sure they put a lot of thought into their choice and made a winning one. The musical chairs of announcers may have come to an end, at least as far as Oaklawn Park is concerned.
Vic brings everything to the table Oaklawn wants and needs. He’s a great caller with a great history. They should gel together perfectly. Vic knows the game, has been a Jockey Agent, has called champions, and knows how to generate excitement when calling a major race. He’ll also fill the ambassador role at all the Arkansas and Hot Springs functions Oaklawn has a presence at as a major part of the Arkansas community and landscape. Last but not least, Vic has that famous last Hollywood call under his belt. You can relive that moment here, while you anticipate some of the champions Vic will be calling at Oaklawn soon:
Vic really nails it here #goosebumps
Our High Five this week goes to Ryan Dickey of US Racing for his powerful article on depression in horse racing. He shares it with Stephanie Slinger, who was open and honest with him in sharing her personal story. Great job, and let’s remember that famous quote, “don’t look down on anyone, unless you are helping them up.” Great job Ryan. You can read it here.
This goes to the analyst who will remain unnamed (yes I have a heart) who said only certain trainers know how to train a horse to run a 100 Beyer speed figure. On this subject I’ll say no more. Well, maybe one more word, “WHAT????????”