DEL MAR, Calif. — If you want to experience the true essence of a Trevor Denman race call, stand out in the parking lot at Del Mar during one of the races. Despite being hundreds of yards away from the action and unable to see a single horse in the race, when the roar of the crowd has reached its crescendo and the race ends, you will know exactly what happened out on the racetrack.
Arguably the game’s most familiar race caller returns for another summer meet at Del Mar in 2022, just like he’s done every year since he took over for Harry Henson in 1984, with the exception of 2020 when he decided to ride out Covid at his home in Minnesota.
Denman was actually getting ready to leave his property and make the drive to San Diego for the fall meet at Del Mar last October when he slipped on some ice-slick steps at his place and injured his back.
“That injury before the last fall meet was so unexpected,” Denman says. “I fell heavily and could not walk unaided for two weeks. It was a nerve pain, so it was excruciating. After two weeks it healed daily.”
And now Denman’s ready to get back in the booth. First, the drive to Del Mar from Minnesota, making some memorable stops along the way.
“This trip we visited the site of Buddy Holly’s ill-fated plane crash,” Denman says, “in which he and Richie Valens died in a remote cornfield in Iowa. The crash site memorial is on an Iowa farm, but the farmer allows you to go on his land for free to visit it. Midwest hospitality.”
Denman and his wife, Robin, take five days to complete 2,000 mile trip.
“I have a penchant for Indian War battle sites,” Denman notes, “so we went to Fort McPherson, Nebraska, Blue Water Battlefield in Nebraska and the Battle Of Mud Springs in Nebraska.”
Trevor brings a unique style to every call, with catchphrases like, “And away they go” spoken at the start of every race. “Scraping the paint” used to describe a horse rallying up the rail. “They would need to sprout wings” for when a horse is so far out in front, the rest of the field has no chance. “Moving like a winner” or “looks like he jumped in at the quarter pole”…all signature calls that have become a part of the racing culture.
These days Denman is exclusive to Del Mar, affording the 68-year old the opportunity to enjoy the best of both worlds…continue working, calling horse races at one of the most beautiful tracks in the world…while also getting to spend time away from the limelight to enjoy a quiet life with Robin on their secluded home in Minnesota.
“I have never been happier than I am now in my “retirement,” Denman says. “I think I will go on calling races until the day comes when I say, ‘Okay that’s it, time to say goodbye’.”
Del Mar Press Release
Photo: Trevor Denman (Benoit Photo)