Blog Spotlight: Jerry Echemann

If you’ve ever watched the greyhound racing at Wheeling Island Downs, you’ve certainly heard Jerry Echemann calling the races. Continuing our Track Announcer series, we spoke with Jerry about his start in announcing and his love for his awesome career.

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Jerry describes himself as never having the “gift of gab,” nor does he wish he did. Instead, Jerry enjoys and prefers quiet conversation. How did someone who isn’t very chatty get into a speaking career? Well, despite having a preference for quiet conversation, Jerry had become interested in announcing when he was a young boy.

“As a boy, I would watch the Cincinnati Reds on TV and pretend I was doing radio play-by-play.”

This interest lead Jerry to announce for his high school diving team when the position became available. With announcing of some sort still on Jerry’s mind, he headed to Ohio University after high school to study radio and television, which kickstarted his 31-year career in television news. Throughout this time, Jerry would visit Wheeling Island a couple times a year for fun. One day, he noticed a help-wanted ad in the local paper for a back-up announcer at Wheeling and Jerry applied for the gig.

“It would be many months before they called. Other guys tried out before me and could not make the grade. The work-weary full-time guy, upon hearing me call my first race, thrust his arms skyward, spun around and said, ‘I’m going to get a day off!”

Jerry enjoyed being a reporter for WTRF-TV in Wheeling, West Virginia, but his announcing spot at Wheeling Island was becoming more appealing to him. After about ten years of working as a back-up announcer, Jerry decided to leave TV and switch to full-time announcing at Wheeling.

“I had become tired of covering fires and stabbings and being put outside to go ‘live’ in the predawn hours of 5 degree below zero mornings.”

This career change ended up being a great decision for Jerry as he loves his job at Wheeling Island.

“I tell people I have the best job at the track.”

The great thing about calling races for Wheeling Island is that Jerry gets the best of both worlds; he is pursuing his childhood dream of announcing and gets to enjoy the greyhound racing action. Jerry’s favorite greyhounds often consist of the pups with creative names. If he likes a name, you can bet that Jerry is a fan of that dog. Run-together names like Benicetoafireman are names that catch Jerry’s interest.

Barts Outofmyway
Barts Outofmyway

This season, at Wheeling so far, Jerry is keeping an eye on Barts Outofmyway (Pictured) and Barts Buymeaboat, who has been doing a great job tearing up the track. Barts Buymeaboat has 8 wins, 7 places, and 11 shows in 42 starts this season so far. Jerry really appreciates the greyhounds that can break out of the box really fast, which we have seen a few times from Barts Buymeaboat.

“They bust out of the box to take big leads and it’s exciting to see if they can hold on at the wire.”

Jerry’s favorite races to call are the championship stakes races, which are full of excitement. This makes announcing the races even more fun. The event that Jerry enjoys the most at Wheeling is their Fourth of July Party on the Apron, which consists of music, food, fireworks, and dancing on the apron after a day of greyhound racing.

Working so long as a track announcer, we asked Jerry what his most memorable call has been over the years. For Jerry, this consisted of the first time he was alone in the announcing booth. He had the nerves and excitement of calling his first race alone, but the thing about starting out is that you lack experience and one thing that Jerry hadn’t experienced yet was calling out prices of a dead heat. Naturally, Jerry’s very first time alone in that booth to call a race, a dead heat came in. Fortunately, Jerry got through it and has now called a ton of races, some of which have included dead heats.

We are so glad that Jerry was able to push through the learning curve of calling races because we enjoy listening to him at Wheeling Island. His energy and love for announcing shines through when he calls races. We couldn’t agree more with Jerry when he says that he has the best job at the track.

We would like to thank Jerry Echemann for speaking with us and sharing his story. Make sure to tune into greyt greyhound racing and announcing by Jerry at Wheeling Island Wednesdays through Sundays. We would also like to thank Stan Pawloski for providing us with pictures. One of our main goals is to promote the greyhound industry. Do you work in the greyhound racing industry or know someone who does? Would you be interested in being featured in our blog or podcast? Contact us at custserv@greyhoundchannel.com.

This Week With The Professor: Hot Kennels

One handicapping factor that is sometimes overlooked is the “hot kennel” factor. It is a known fact that kennels get hot and, of course, vice versa. There can be many reasons that a kennel may get hot and it seems like all the greyhounds in that kennel run to their peak performance.

One may be that the trainer has wormed the kennel. This is done periodically (more frequently in warm climates) to rid the dogs of parasites that they may have picked up. A lot of times this leads to the greyhounds feeling better and running well. If the kennel had gone flat and then picks up, a lot of the dogs had gone down in grade and, when feeling well again, quickly go back to their proper grade.

Another reason could be a change in feed, or training routine. This will often lead to the greyhounds uptick in performance. I can give you an example of this. I once had a kennel owner running a kennel in Florida ask me to take over his kennel because the greyhounds’ performances had fallen off dramatically. When I went into the kennel, I discovered that the trainer had been giving the greyhounds too many supplements in their feed. The kennel was quiet, and the dogs listless. I immediately changed the feed to strictly meat and meal. Within a week the dogs were more lively and noisy in the kennel. The greyhounds were all down in grade and immediately started winning, and running at their top level. We were the leading kennel, by far, for a few weeks and I had several trainers come and ask me what I was giving the dogs to get them to run so well. I told nothing, I just went back to the basics. The dogs had been given so many supplements that their body chemistry had become toxic.

In conclusion, watch out when kennels get hot, and use that knowledge to improve your chances of picking winners.

 

Blog Spotlight: Joe Ross

Watching and listening to the greyhound racing action at bestbet, you would probably consider Joe Ross to be one of the best track announcers. Continuing our interviews with greyhound racing announcers, we recently spoke with Joe, originally from Boston, Massachusetts, where he grew up with greyhound racing. Joe loves the sport, his job, and those involved in the greyhound racing industry, which is very clear in the way he announces and the conversation we had with him.

Joe’s dad really enjoyed greyhound racing and had a few dogs that raced. This spurred Joe’s interest in greyhound racing as he would head to the racetrack with his dad and help out with the dogs. This allowed Joe to get a lot of hands on experience in the greyhound racing industry at an early start.

Joe Ross

Growing up, Joe played all sorts of sports, but he found greyhound racing to be a good spectator sport and a good way to earn a little extra money on the side. This was especially nice while he was in college, where playing the dogs at Raynham Park in Raynham, Massachusetts, gave him the opportunity to earn cash to help him through college.

Living in Florida, Joe and his wife, Jennifer, decided to move to Arizona. Joe visited Phoenix Greyhound Park one night to bet on the dogs and ended up working at the track for 15 years. While at Phoenix Greyhound Park, Joe participated in many different jobs, including announcing. During this time, Joe ran a couple race books at the Native American casinos in Phoenix, so he has a lot of experience working in the industry. Those 15 years at Phoenix Greyhound Park came to a close because Joe and Jennifer wanted to move back to Florida. Joe received a couple of job offers in Florida before accepting an announcing gig at bestbet, where he has now been for 10 years.

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Herstal

Working at bestbet, Joe has had the pleasure of calling many amazing races. His favorite stakes event is the Orange Park Derby and some memorable races of his include the 2009 James J. Patton Marathon won by Penny Candy and the 2007 and 2008 Marathon Championships won back to back by Kiowa Wish Frank. Currently, Joe has been a fan of Real Good Feeling and Herstal, both fantastic greyhounds that have stakes experience under their belts. Seldom Told, who recently retired, has also been a recent favorite of Joe’s. While Joe likes all greyhound racing, he really enjoys the marathon races where the pups can show their skills.

“A dog can get bumped around and still get a chance to win.”

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While calling greyhound races can be fun and exciting, it’s not an easy job. Announcers need to stay focused during a race and in the know of everything greyhound racing. They have to be able to speak quickly and follow the fast-paced changes that occur during a race. Those, like Joe, who can call the races and do it well are quite impressive.

“A racetrack announcer is kind of like an umpire. You only notice them when they screw up.”

Joe is a joy to listen to while watching a race. He is descriptive and energetic, both great qualities in a track announcer. While Joe was announcing in Phoenix, an older gentleman, who was almost completely blind told Joe that he loved the way Joe called the races because of how descriptive he was. Joe’s calling style made it much easier for this nearly blind man to follow the live racing action that he could not visually see. This is one of the most gratifying things that has happened to Joe and he really took that exchange to heart, choosing to call the races while including as much information on the dogs as he can.

Over the years, Joe has learned a lot about calling races. Some announcers that Joe really admires and likes to listen to are Frank Ashman and Bob Haberly from bestbet, his good friend Jim Peake from Derby Lane, Mike Jameson, Ramon Cadavieco, and Dale Simons from Palm Beach, Jerry Esherman from Wheeling, and Bob Thacker from Sanford Orlando. Everyone has their own style, but they can also learn from one another, which is something that Joe really appreciates about announcing. They all have a common goal of caring about the dogs and trying to do the best that they can.

There is one announcer that Joe considers the best of the best, and that is Steven Steel. Steven worked at both Raynham and Ebro Greyhound Park at one point and Joe describes him as being extremely descriptive. He would call every dog’s name, which is hard to do in greyhound racing, how many lengths behind they were, and why they did or didn’t win.

“He was the most amazing race caller of dog racing I’ve ever heard in my life.”

Working as an announcer is a career that Joe truly loves. Taking advice from his father, Joe made sure he had things in his life he enjoyed doing, including his job. Greyhound racing is something that Joe has been involved in nearly his whole life and he is very passionate about it. This makes his job all the more enjoyable and fun for him.

“I learned something from my dad. I took one thing before he passed and he said, ‘Son, you’re going to work your whole life, make sure you do something that you love.”

Sounds like Joe has done just that.

We would like to thank Joe Ross for speaking with us. Make sure to listen to Joe at bestbet for some really greyt announcing and racing. One of our main goals is to promote the greyhound industry. Do you work in the greyhound racing industry or know someone who does? Would you be interested in being featured in our blog or podcast? Contact us at custserv@greyhoundchannel.com.

 

This Week With The Professor: Q & A

Today, The Professor will answer a question submitted by Greyhound Channel customer Jason M. Jason asked, “Why do dogs have a schooling race instead of a regular race as part of their normal racing schedule and how much should you take away from it when handicapping him the next time out?”

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There are multiple reasons for greyhounds to be schooled. Some are voluntary (trainer or owner choice) and some are required schooling. First, the involuntary reasons. There are rules, which are different at each track, that are in place to protect the wagering public that require the dog to school satisfactorily before they may race again in an offical race. The trainer will receive a “ticket” from the judges, which requires the greyhound to run in a schooling race. A “ticket” may be received for several reasons. One would be if the greyhound interferes with another dog in a race. This usually requires two satisfactory schooling races to be eligible to race again. Another reason for a “ticket” would be if the greyhound runs a number of races without at least a fourth place finish (usually six races). In that case one satisfactory performance will allow the dog to go back to racing. One universal rule that requires a greyhound to school is if they have not raced for 10 days. In that case, one satisfactory schooling race is required.

Now for voluntary official schooling. A trainer may officially school a greyhound if they think the dog is discouraged from losing and could use lesser competition to get their confidence back. Another reason is if the greyhound is close to “grading off,” or being disqualified from racing (usually four times worse than fourth in four starts in the bottom grade), and they want to ensure that the greyhound is sharp before racing officially.

Thank you for the greyt question, Jason!

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Do you have a question for The Professor? Leave a comment below and you could receive a $2 wagering credit to your Greyhound Channel account if your question is featured! Tune into our podcast, Catch the Action with Greyhound Channel, for news and more greyt tips from The Professor.

NGA Announces 2017 Hall of Fame Inductees

The National Greyhound Association (NGA) announced the inductees of the 2017 Hall of Fame that will take place in the Fall of this year. The following is the article written by Jim Gartland, Executive Director for the NGA, with the Hall of Fame announcement and the history of each inductee.

Four Selected for 2017 Hall of Fame Induction

Three great greyhounds, and a racing legend, have been tabbed for induction into the Greyhound Hall of Fame this coming fall. Izz A Champ, Wayside Carol, Dodgem By Design, and Jack Kahn will be inducted in ceremonies this October at the Hall in Abilene, KS.

Jack Kahn was born in New Rochelle, NY in 1909. He graduated from Cornell University in 1931 and then went to work for his father importing silk from the Far East. He married his wife, Louise in 1935. He moved around a bit before finally settling in Florida. Along the way in his career Jack got into manufacturing, television, hotels and more, before getting into the greyhound business in the early sixties. Through a couple of other greyhound enthusiasts and track owner Jerry Collins, Jack was introduced to Ed Moses. This pair would enjoy a long, successful relationship and end up producing some of the best greyhounds of the era.

Behind the Moses breeding and bloodlines Jack had such stars as K’s Clown, K’s Viking, K’s Broadway, K’s Clever, K’s Moonglo, K’s Chestnut, the immortal K’s Flak and many, many more. Jack would travel his charges for match races and special events anywhere and everywhere. His kennels won many championships and his list of All American, Rural Rube and Flashy Sir winners is as impressive as there is.

His great racer, K’s Flak produced some future great studs including, Wincarnis, BJ’s Justin, Mi Designer, Greys Statesman and more. The bloodlines of these studs and many of Jack’s females carry on through today’s breedings.

Owned by Dorothy Roban, Izz A Champ (Tell Tom-Miss Ismay) was a true sprint superstar. In 1970 he compiled a 33-27-4-2 record while racing at Palm Beach, Daytona and Sanford-Orlando. He won both the Palm Beach and Daytona Inaugurals and was undefeated at both Daytona and Sanford. He was the track win leader at Palm Beach with 21 victories. He won the Inter-City match race series between Palm Beach and Sanford and was an All American for that year.

In 1971 at Palm Beach he had 29 starts with 27 wins and 2 seconds, including a streak of 21 straight wins. He, once again, was the track win champ and repeated his win in the Sanford match race series. The fear of minus pools led Daytona Beach Kennel Club management to decide to pay the owners of Izz A Champ a Grade A purse 30 times not to race! Champ broke the track record at Palm Beach four times during the 1970-71 racing season and broke the 30 second barrier nine times in that same period (something that was very uncommon at the time). For all of this he was named Captain of the 1971 All American team and was awarded the first ever Rural Rube award from the NGA.

In 1971 and 1972, Wayside Carol was one of the nation’s premier distance dogs. A red Brindle daughter out of Rinaker-Lady Eve she was whelped in December of 1968 and was owned by the Wayside Kennel. Over the two year period she accomplished the following:

1971 Hollywood Derby winner
1971 Hollywood Endurance Champion
1971 Track Champion – Hollywood
1971 Finalist – Flagler International
1972 Hollywood Derby winner
1972 Hollywood Endurance Champion
1972 Track Champion – Hollywood
1972 Finalist Flagler International

The 71 Flagler race included the likes of Carry On, Lorded, Target, Madison Joker and Carol’s littermate, Wayside Frosty (Lorded was the winner). The 72 version was won by Carbono and included Gurley, Rough Black Handle and a dog you may have heard of named Big Whizzer, proving she raced against some of the very best! She was an All American in both 71 and 72 and was the NGA’s first ever Flashy Sir award winner in 1971.

The final inductee in this year’s class is Dodgem By Design. The Charter Kennel star was bred by Rod and Sue Boatright. He was whelped on January 15, 2000 and is out of Hall of Famer, Gable Dodge by Cruzin By Design. While most will remember Dodgem for his brilliant stud career, he did have a fine, albeit short, racing career.

He began running at Tampa in July of 2001 and won Grade A in just his 7th start. He finished the year at 25-11-3-2-2 despite missing over a month due to injury. He moved on to Derby Lane where he made the finals of the All Star Kennel preview and won the Derby Lane Sprint over the likes of Courageous Nicky, Tahitian, Fuzzy’s Geronimo, Talentedmrripley and Kiowa Sweet Trey. A few weeks later he captured the Matinee Idol Stakes over Stan’s Boy Flyer, Courageous Nicky, Scatilac Navajo and Talentedmrripley. He ran 4th in the T.L. Weaver Memorial to cap off the Derby Lane meet going 26-9-6-4-3.

He returned to Tampa and finished a disappointing 6th as the second favorite after being blocked in the Tamps Sprint Championship. The Winner was another All American, Ben Awhile. He finished at Tampa with a 17-8-3-0-1 record and moved on to the Woodlands to compete in the Kansas Bred Sprint finishing 6th in the finals during a troubled trip. He finished his career at Derby Lane winning several more races before being retired sound in May of 2003 with a career record of 84-32-13-8-9.

As a sire, Dodgem topped the sire standings for three years in a row from 2009 through 2011. He still remains in the top 50 sires in 2017 and has sired more than 12,000 offspring including stake winners and All Americans such as Ten For Tee, CT Buck Wild, Hi Noon Renegade, WW’s Dog Gone, Aerial Battle, PG Tiger, Yahoo Radar, BD’s Grayson and Optimus Prime.

A well deserving group for sure. Be sure to attend the ceremonies on October 12 and welcome these four greats to the Hall of Fame!

To read more from the NGA, visit their wesbite here.

This Week With The Professor: “No Excuses!”

When I use the term “no excuses,” I am referring to two things. The first is making unwarranted excuses for a greyhound you wagered on, who did not run well. It is important to evaluate the greyhound’s performance honestly. Do not attempt to justify your wager by making false excuses for the dog not performing as you expected. This is especially important if you are trip handicapping (anlayzing the “trip” of each greyhound in a race). If you make an excuse that is not valid, it may cloud your judgement the next time the greyhound runs. So be honest, if the dog ran poorly, note that, and move on.

The second thing, when I am talking about “no excuses,” is evaluating your play on a race. It is ok to think that you made a poor wager or handicapped poorly. By admitting your mistakes, it can make you a better player, and you can learn from it. Don’t beat yourself up, realize that everyone makes errors in judgement, but again, be honest and don’t make up excuses for yourself.

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Do you have a question for The Professor? Leave a comment below and you could receive a $2 wagering credit to your Greyhound Channel account if your question is featured! Tune into our podcast, Catch the Action with Greyhound Channel, for news and more greyt tips from The Professor.

Blog Spotlight: Mike Coppola

If you watch Naples-Fort Myers greyhound racing, you would probably recognize the voice of the person we recently spoke to regarding his life in the greyhound and horse racing industries. Mike Coppola, one of the track announcers at Naples-Fort Myers, describes himself as a big, Italian guy at 6 feet and 8 inches. Listening to Mike call the races, you can tell that he is a fun, energetic person. This showed in the wonderful conversation we had with Mike regarding the greyhound racing industry, Mike’s ideas for the sport, his hands on experience in horse racing, and his love for greyhounds.

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Mike’s racing story begins when he went to broadcasting school in the 80’s, in hopes of going into radio, but by the time he was finished, there were no jobs for what he was looking for. While Mike ended up not going into radio, his experience with broadcasting school would play a helpful part in his future of calling races.

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In his free time, Mike enjoyed betting on the horses. It was then that he became friends with the brother of a trainer and, through him, bought his first horse, Big Buster, in 1983. This spurred the start of Mike’s standardbred racing career. As an owner, Mike was very involved, learning a lot about racing and helping out with the numerous tasks involved with the horses. Living in New Haven, Connecticut, Mike raced his horses at many different tracks, some of which included Yonkers, Monticello, Pocono, and Indiana Downs.

Yonkers

While Mike was an owner of trotters and pacers, he also received opportunities to announce the races a few times at Foxboro and Pocono. He enjoyed calling those races, but it wasn’t a consistent gig, and his main focus was on his horses.

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Due to bad arthritis in his back in 2007, Mike decided it was time to wrap up his career of owning and racing horses. He didn’t want to continue if he couldn’t be active with the horses and industry. Not long after, Mike moved to Florida. There, he started working at Naples-Fort Myers greyhound track where he worked as a part-time cashier for four years. He was always interested in doing more, if any opportunities arose. Well, an opportunity came knocking in January of this year for Mike. There was a position for another announcer at Naples and, between his racing experience and charismatic personality, Mike was the perfect fit.

Through Senior Naples Announcer Dave Bullock, Mike’s mentor, he has learned a lot about calling greyhound races. The best advice Dave has given Mike is to just be himself. Taking that to heart, and trying to always keep it fun, Mike likes to associate cute and quirky quips into his announcing that people will enjoy.

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Mike doesn’t think that he’s the best at calling races, but he explained that he can compensate his announcer voice with his knowledge of racing and fun quips to balance it out. With his background in harness racing, many terms carry over into his greyhound racing announcing. A lot of those terms make sense to Mike and he feels like having them with his witty commentary are what works for him and make him unique from other announcers.

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When asked what the most memorable race was that Mike has called, he mentioned his first stakes race, which also happened to be the last stakes of the racing 2016/2017 season at Naples, the Marathon Championship Final. Mike also enjoyed doing the elimination rounds because it allowed him to watch the races unfold up to the championship.

Working in the greyhound racing industry, Mike has met so many great people, including other announcers. One of his favorite things about working in the racing industry is all the wonderful people you meet along the way and the connections you form. People in the greyhound racing industry tend to come together and support one another, creating a community. This is one of the things that Mike really appreciates.

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Mike’s interest in the racing industry doesn’t end there, he also loves greyhounds, owning two of his own as pets, PMB Jezebel and Daisy Clipper. Both are very relaxed, sweet pups and your usual “45-mph couch potatoes.” Mike loves their mellow and quirky personalities.

Jezebel_Daisy_Mike
Mike with his two pups, Daisy Clipper and PMB Jezebel.

While Naples-Fort Myers’ live season is on a break, Mike has plans to meet up with old friends at Saratoga. This is a special tradition for Mike because he sees his friends from his horse racing days, people who he has formed strong bonds with. Besides these trips, Mike enjoys traveling to tracks around the US, two of his favorites being Keeneland and, of course, Saratoga. One on his bucket list that he looks forward to visiting is Del Mar.

Mike’s love for both greyhound and horse racing shines through when you talk to him. It shows in his ideas for the racing industry, his love for greyhounds, and his fun spirit while calling races.Quote---I-want-people-to-sayWe would like to thank Mike Coppola for speaking with us. Don’t forget to listen to Mike when the live racing season returns to Naples-Fort Myers in November of this year. One of our main goals is to promote the greyhound industry. Do you work in the greyhound racing industry or know someone who does? Would you be interested in being featured in our blog or podcast? Contact us at custserv@greyhoundchannel.com.

This Week With The Professor: Lucky Numbers

Many handicappers have what they think are “lucky numbers,” and they always seem to include those numbers when they are wagering. In my opinion, these numbers should be called “unlucky numbers.”

Playing “lucky numbers” is fine if you are playing the lottery, which is a mindless exercise, or are on a game show and have to choose a number. Having “lucky numbers” when playing the greyhounds, or thoroughbreds, is almost always a negative exercise. If your “lucky numbers” come in, and you used them, you think that it was luck and not for a legitimate reason, such as how the greyhound ran, or how the race was run. When you then analyze the race, you will not look at it objectively.

If the “lucky numbers” do not come in, you have wasted money including them in your play. Let’s say that you do not include the “lucky numbers” in your play, then they come in. Now you are playing the mind game that you should have played them and you didn’t.

In my opinion, the only reason a number is important is because of post position and how the runner will like that position. I have known quite a few “numbers players” over the years and have never known one who showed a profit in the long run. If you like playing numbers and don’t care about showing a profit and just want to have fun, go for it, but don’t expect to be a winner in the long run.

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Do you have a question for The Professor? Leave a comment below and you could receive a $2 wagering credit to your Greyhound Channel account if your question is featured! Tune into our podcast, Catch the Action with Greyhound Channel, for news and more greyt tips from The Professor.

Blog Spotlight: Jim Peake

He has called some of the most historic races of our time, as greyt and award winning athletes such as the legendary, Talentedmrripley, and 105 career winner, Husker Magic, crossed the finish line. He has also helped fans to cash in on the sport with his picks for both horses and greyhounds. Known as “The Voice” of Derby Lane, Jim Peake has been entertaining greyhound racing enthusiasts with his captivating calls for over two decades.

We recently spoke with Jim, asking about his career and the greyhound racing industry. The following includes our interview with Jim so that you can to get to know the man from above the stands at Derby Lane or the voice coming out of your speakers at home. Enjoy!

If memory serves us right, you have been with your wife for 17 years, married for 10. Is that correct? You have mentioned that you two attend the Breeders Cup for your anniversary every year. How long have you been doing that? Does she share the same love of racing?

You are correct on my wife Beth. I met her here at the track 17 years ago. We have been together ever since and were married 10 years ago this November 1st. We have been going to The Breeders’ Cup since 2006. The only year we did not go was the year we got married. Beth punches tickets here at Derby Lane and she has been here for the past 35 years. We go to Breeders’ Cup with 2 other couples and the girls work (punching tickets) both days while the boys play. I like Santa Anita the best, but we have had great times at Churchill, Monmouth, Keeneland, and Lone Star. This year will be at Del Mar, which will be a first at that track for us. Beth would rather work and make money than sit there all day and watch the races. When it’s on the west coast, we always drive to Las Vegas following the races for 4 Days, which makes it a great trip.

Jim_Beth-Wife
Jim Peake and his wife, Beth.

After training under Mark Beiro and calling Jai Alai in Tampa from 1989-1995, you said you were led to greyhound racing in St. Petersburg. Was it something specific that led you to Derby Lane and drew your interest in greyhound racing? Had you had any interest in greyhound or horse racing prior to Derby Lane?

First, let me tell you about Mark Beiro. Mark has been a figure in the Tampa Bay area for many years. Mark started out with Florida Championship Wrestling years ago before moving on to Tuesday Night Fights on USA Network and many other Boxing shows. Later on, he moved to Battle Bots as the Ring Announcer for both the Battle Bots and Boxing. But I met him at Jai Alai, which he was “The Voice of Jai-Alai” for many years. We became good friends and when the head of the PR Department opened, he came out of the booth and became the PR Director. He always told me I could do the job, he always said I had a strong voice. So he showed me the ins and outs of The Jai Alai game, which, by the way, is a great game watching it live. He hired me and that went on for over 6 years. Then, with the Jai Alai business, started the downhill run caused by the longest strike in sports history. He gave me a tip that they were looking for a race caller at Derby Lane, which I found interesting. Came over here and competed for the job with a lot of guys that wanted this job. It was an open tryout and I wanted out of Jai Alai, which 3 years later closed its doors in Tampa. I got the job and the rest is history. Have no Idea what I would have been doing with my life if it wasn’t for Mark Beiro.

As far as greyhounds and horses, I was always a Horse guy, But I grew up with the harness horses. Spent many nights at The Meadows in Washington, PA. I listened to maybe the best race caller I ever have heard, Roger Huston. He was there when I was a young man growing up and is still calling the races there to this day. With the greyhounds, my first exposure to them was at Wheeling Downs in WV. I found them very fun and fast. Never thought that I would be calling over 100,000 races and working in the business for 22 years.

Jim_Dad-Jay
Jim Peake (right) with his dad, Jay (left). Fun fact: Jay is a champion archer and hunter. At the age of 17, in 1957, he won the National Archery Championships in Watkins Glen, NY.

Are there any particular greyhounds that you enjoy watching race? Any particular stakes that you favor?

I like to watch the young hounds start out and find the good ones that move up the ladder in grade. It’s always fun to see them get better and move up to top grade. I still enjoy our big races: The Sprint Classic, The Distance Classic and then our other top races, The Fall Sprint and Holiday Distance Classic.

What is one of your most memorable or favorite races that you have called over the years?

I think the the best and biggest races were the Derby Lane Million 1 and 2. It took the Greyhound business by storm. It was maybe the 2 most talked about races in the sport all over the world. We had the best of the best travel here for those history making events. I am proud to have called the two richest races in greyhound racing history.

Calling over 100,000 races, the memory fades a little, but we have had the best of the best here. From the best breaking dog I have ever seen, Scott Free, to maybe the best Greyhound of all time in Talentedmrripley, to maybe my personal favorite, Flying Coal City. “The Coal Train” was one of the best dual distance runners that I have called, and one of the first ones that I worked on promo wise on social media. I proclaimed him the “Best Dog in the Country” and I took a lot of heat for it. But in the end, he was the last Greyhound Triple Crown Dog winning all the awards in the same year, Rural Rube, Flashy Sir, and Captain of The All-America Team. No hound has done that since he did it. I also can’t forget Husker Magic. She won over 100 races here at Derby Lane and I am proud to have called them all here. One of the best I have seen, Joey Ice, comes to mind. Made him the #1 dog in the country. Would have had a great shot in the 1st National Championship Race at Daytona. There have been so many champions here at this track that it’s been my pleasure to call them home.


Are there any up and coming “hot dogs” that you think we should keep an eye on?

Kentucky Kat was very hot at the beginning of the year. I like a dog right now that is super hot. RT’s Bo Jangles. This greyhound will have a BIG shot to get 1st Team All-American for 2017. Both have a good shot, but we still have 5.5 months to go. Looking for a few of the younger ones to get better as the summer moves along.

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Derby Lane’s Kentucky Kat, after winning the 2017 Sprint Classic. Photos provided by Michael Black.

With 22 years of calling races, what would you say is your favorite thing about the sport?

The best thing that I like about the sport is the people in it. I have met a lot of great people that love this sport. Lots of fans of the sport that are great. I like the people that I work with now and miss many people that I have worked with in the past. All pro’s and all wanting to put on the best show possible. We are still The Showplace of Greyhound Racing.

Derby Lane has had some movie exposure, such as Oceans 11 and Infiltrator. They have also been involved in the Mutt Derby, which helps raise money for greyhound adoption. Over the years, what would you say has been one of your favorite memories, events, or promotions at Derby Lane?

There’s been a ton of great events here. I was very proud to be a part of those movies and the one that everyone was talking about was on the award winning show Breaking Bad. The episode was 2 of the main stars sitting in a very dark bar by themselves and in the background they had my voice calling the races on the TV’s in the Bar. It was very cool. Lots of people freaked out when they started to hear the call in the background… I got a ton of feedback on that.

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Jim Peake calling a race at Derby Lane. Photo provided by Michael Black.

Derby Lane features your selections at the bottom of every race page. What kinds of things do you look at when handicapping?

I do the picks every day for the program and do the Morning Line as well. I do them 3 days in advance. When looking at the entries I try and find the grade dropper first, then check out their last couple of races and try to remember their races. I believe the Morning Line is a guide for the non pro’s and people coming to the track for the first time. I believe it is a guide for the novice player to begin their handicapping. Just a little help to get started in the process of picking their winners. I don’t get them all right, but I get a few…

We can’t help but smile every time we hear a race called by Jim. His enthusiasm and love for greyhound racing shines through each time he’s at the mic. We enjoyed gaining more insight on one of our favorite track announcers and hope you did as well. If you’re ever in the area, we encourage you to stop by Derby Lane to listen to Jim call the races live. Check out some of his picks at the bottom of the program, too, and make a day of it.

We would like to thank Jim Peake for taking the time to answer our questions. Check out his “Peake’s Picks” via Derby Lane’s website. One of our main goals is to promote the greyhound industry. Do you work in the greyhound racing industry or know someone who does? Would you be interested in being featured in our blog or podcast? Contact us at custserv@greyhoundchannel.com.

This Week With The Professor: Handicapping Thoroughbreds vs. Greyhounds

In honor of the Belmont Stakes running today, June 10th, I thought it might be a good time to discuss the differences between greyhound and thoroughbred handicapping. Let’s look at several factors and see how they are different. Class: In greyhound

Class: In greyhound racing, the greyhounds grade themselves by their performance. In thoroughbred racing, the owners and trainers decide what class to run their horses in.

Speed: In greyhound racing, you can evaluate speed by knowing that the greyhound will always run as hard as they can at the start, so their performance will be more consistent. In thoroughbreds, the jockey will rate the horse, so they may show more speed in some races than others.

Post position: In greyhound racing, post postion is very important, as some dogs like to run on the inside and others the outside. In thoroughbred racing, while post is somehwat important depending on the size of the field, it’s not nearly as critical as with greyhounds.

Human factor: In greyhound racing, the greyhound will run with the same style in every race, and therefore can be counted on to run more as predicted. With thoroughbred racing, the human has much more control of how the horse runs, as the trainer or jockey may decide to change the running style of that horse from race to race. In addition, when a trainer drops a horse in class, you have to be suspect of the horse’s condition.

Trouble: In greyhound racing, there is more bumping, and collisions are commonplace, whereas in thoroughbred racing, bumping is not allowed and may result in disqualification.

In conclusion, it may appear that thoroughbred handicapaping is more difficult than greyhound racing, but that is in the eye of the beholder.

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