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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.We 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.