Santa Anita announced Thursday that the track is bringing in two more race callers for quickie auditions to replace Trevor Denman, who left the track just before the start of the current season.
Craig Evans, who has been calling at the Singapore Turf Club since 2007, will be at Santa Anita on the weekend of Feb. 20-21. The Singapore track, which generally runs a lower grade of horses than those found at the main Australian race courses, goes year-round, mostly on Fridays and Sundays. So, with Santa Anita's near 130 days of racing, it would be more work for Evans, should he get the job. Track announcers in the U.S. are usually paid on a daily rate.
David Fitzgerald, who has been a presenter and commentator in Britain since 2010, will call the races on the weekend of Feb. 27-28. Fitzgerald called the Royal Ascot meetings the last two years. Royal Ascot is probably the most celebrated five days of racing in Britain, with cards that rival the Breeders' Cup. Fitzgerald is known for punctuating his calls with facts and statistics.
The mainstays for the Santa Anita meeting have been Michael Wrona and Frank Mirahmadi, who are doing three-week stretches, alternating with Santa Anita's Northern California sister track, Golden Gate Fields. Both are popular with regular Santa Anita racegoers.
As for what Santa Anita is looking for, Joe Morris, senior vice president of West Coast operations for the Stronach group, laid out this vision:
"They have to be able to paint a picture," Morris said. "You should be able to have your eyes closed and listen and see the race through the eyes of the announcer. Part of it is the tone of the words but also the technical expertise of what's happening on the track. The great callers are seeing things at the same pace as the jockeys and are able to put it into words and paint the picture you are seeing.
A decision on the permanent replacement is expected before the end of the meeting in early April.