Trevor Denman Named 2023 Winner of Coveted Pincay Award

August 12, 2023

Trevor Denman (Benoit Photo)

Del Mar Press Release

DEL MAR, Calif.— Race caller Trevor Denman, who came to Del Mar in 1984 and has been the track’s voice ever since, has been named the 19th recipient of the Laffit Pincay, Jr. Award. He’ll be honored in that role at the shore track on Saturday, August 19.

The Pincay Award, named for, and presented by, the Hall of Fame rider, goes to those who have served the sport of racing “with integrity, extraordinary dedication, determination and distinction.”

Denman, 70, was born in South Africa and first called races as a teenager in his native land. He came to the United States in 1983 and impressed officials at Santa Anita and Del Mar with his distinctive style, so much so that he was soon working at those racetracks and rising to the top of the race announcer ranks in the United States.

He worked at Santa Anita from 1983 to 2015. He has called at Del Mar from 1984 to today, his 38th season at the seaside oval, missing only the 2020 season due to the COVID pandemic. Additionally, he called five seasons at the now defunct Hollywood Park, along with race meets at Golden Gate Fields, Pomona, Pimlico, Laurel and Atlantic City.

“Trevor is my favorite announcer,” said Pincay, Jr. “He called many of the races I rode and when I was winning a big stakes race, it was always good to hear his exciting call in the stretch.”

Pincay, Jr. retired in 2003 as racing’s winningest jockey with 9,530 victories.

When Denman came to the United States and began his unique style of calling, he caused a revolution in the American announcer ranks. Previously, callers in the country would note horses strictly by their positions in the race and their distance ahead of the horse behind them. But Denman instead used the race to tell a story, eschewing the “by a length” style to instead call out horses moving inside, outside, around and about in a quick tale that in effect painted a picture. He would often spot horses making a move from far back in the pack and alert his listeners to what was unfolding, giving them a preview of good things to come.

His catch phrases became part of racetrack lore: His out-of-the-gate call of “And Away They Go” was a far cry from the standard “And they’re off.” His others would include the likes of “They would need to sprout wings to catch…..”; “Soooo impressive;” “Moving like a winner” and “Coming like an express train….”

He also was popular in other media. He was the caller in many racing movies – notably “Let It Ride” and “Beverly Hills Cop I and II” – as well as around 30 other TV and movie spots.  In particular, he was the main focus of TV’s long-running “The Simpsons” in one of their 2000 shows.

He was the voice of the Breeders’ Cup for its run on ESPN. In 2009 in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he cut loose one of the most classic calls in racing annals. The mighty mare Zenyatta took on the boys in the big race and, despite being far back early, Denman picked her up making her signature moved coming into the stretch and finished up her winning run with a perfect “This-is-un-believe-able” in faultless rhythm with her final strides.

He and his wife of 35 years, Robin, live 10 miles outside of Wabasha, Minnesota (population 2,500) in a lovely farmhouse they had built from scratch on their 110-acre farm. They love the solace of the countryside and both are voracious readers who use all the quiet that surrounds them to their advantage.

Pincay rode for 39 seasons, including 27 summers at Del Mar, earning five Eclipse Awards as the nation’s foremost rider. He also led the country in earnings on seven different occasions while compiling his exceptional win mark. Now 76-years-old, the native of Panama lives in Arcadia near Santa Anita and continues to maintain a close connection to the game.

The list of previous Pincay Award winners follows:

2022 – Ron McAnally 2021 – Dr. Gregory Ferraro 2019 – Julie Krone 
2018 – Martine Bellocq 2017 – Mike Smith 2016 – Chris McCarron 
2015 – Victor Espinoza 2014 – Art Sherman2013 – Eddie Delahoussaye
2012 – John Harris2011 – Jerry/Ann Moss2010 – Oak Tree Racing Assn.
2009 – Merlin Volzke2008 – Pete Pedersen2007 – Elwood (Bud) Johnston  
2006 – Mel/Warren Stute  2005 – Noble Threewitt  2004 – Bob Benoit

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