In a move that caught many by surprise, Santa Anita fired race announcer Michael Wrona on Saturday.
Wrona announced it on Twitter: “Mr. [Tim] Ritvo has just fired me. I am no longer employed at Santa Anita.”
The 52-year-old Wrona showed up for a meeting Saturday at Santa Anita, where Ritvo delivered the news.
Calls to Ritvo, the top racing executive at the Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita Park, were not returned. However, he told the Daily Racing Form: “It’s just a change in business. We’re going in a different direction. He did fine. We’re appreciative of the job he did.”
Ritvo indicated he had someone in mind as the replacement and an announcement could come in a couple days.
Messages to Wrona were not returned.
Wrona got the job after a very public audition in 2016 after he and Frank Mirahmadi, a Southern Californian who gave up a job at Oaklawn to try for the position, alternated stretches of race calling, plus two other international guest callers were brought in to audition. In March of that year, Wrona was named as the permanent announcer at the historic Arcadia thoroughbred horse racing track.
Wrona is well traveled having been the announcer at Hollywood Park, Golden Gate Fields, Bay Meadows, Retama Park, Arlington Park, Lone Star Park, Fair Grounds and many smaller tracks. He was just named the announcer at Kentucky Downs’ short two-week season. Wrona also calls the short fair meet at Santa Rosa.
Wrona is originally from Australia and his calls are often punctuated with background of the horses. His style was a departure from the more traditional way of just sticking to the race as it unfolds.
Santa Anita will reopen on Dec. 26 with its new announcer. Mirahmadi is a likely candidate although no one at the track would confirm it. Mirahmadi is currently calling races at Aqueduct in New York and Monmouth in New Jersey.
Other race callers at Stronach Group tracks include Pete Aiello at Gulfstream, Dave Rodman at Laurel and Pimlico and Matt Dinerman at Golden Gate, although it’s unknown if any of them either want the job or are under consideration.
In his first year at Santa Anita, Wrona was the subject of death threats from someone who resented that he replaced Trevor Denman, who now calls races at Del Mar. No arrests were made but the person who made the threats was barred from the track.