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HRN Original Blog:
The Dark Horse

First Female Track Announcer - History Is Made At Canterbury!

Angela Hermann 615 X 400
For the first time in North American history, a woman called an entire race card. Last Saturday at Canterbury Park, Angela Hermann broke the glass ceiling and accomplished a feat that none other has. I caught up with Angela to learn more about her experience and her place in history.
 
 
Good thing that paddock analyst Angela Hermann, who has held just about every job at the track that one person could have, was ready for the challenge. You see earlier in the year, Peter Galassi gave Angela the mic for a race at Hawthorne as she gave her first shot at calling a race. Then over the summer, knowing that he would be unavailable to call races on this weekend, Canterbury Park’s regular race caller, Paul Allen had given Angela a few shots at calling a race here and there to prepare her for this adventure.
 
 
Angela was surprised and excited that this all came together. “It was just an idea at beginning at the season, but then it gained momentum.” Paul Allen, had his NFL duties (for our Minnesota Vikings) to attend to this weekend and the race track needed someone to call the races last Saturday. The stars had finally aligned.
 
 
And as I mentioned, this was no ordinary day of calling a race or two. Angela blazed a trail on which she hopes others can follow. She became the first woman in North American racing history to call an entire card’s worth of races. And that is a big deal. “Yes it was [a big deal], because now that the window is open forever. It hadn’t been touched before and I hope it stays open. There are probably more women that want to do it and I had so much fun doing it.”
 
 
So I asked Angela what kind of preparation she did during the week. “I watched tons and tons of replays, watched TVG and practiced races, said my own things, and picked up some things and items which others used for their races.” While she didn’t do as much handicapping as she would have liked, she did say rehearsing helped. And to memorize all of those names (which I would never be able to do myself)? She read the pages three times and noted that handicapping the race helps too especially in terms of who was going to the lead right away and who she’d have to call just once or twice.
 
 
I also asked her if she found it easier to call the races at Canterbury because of her being familiar with the circuit and she agreed that it gave her a huge advantage. “I’m sure that Trevor Denman would likely prefer races with Zenyatta for example, because the field and pace are known. Then he could focus on the unknowns versus knowns.” She didn’t have any issues with pronouncing the names, but one name gave her a bit of a tongue twister, and that was Slew City Sin in the second race. She was quite glad that horse didn’t end up winning! No matter how much you prepare, as we all know, in horse racing anything is possible. I asked Angela if anything happened which she did not expect.
 
 
“Yes, definitely a horse falling… we didn’t prep for that. Paul and I went over how to handle inquiries and the like, but not a horse that falls down. It was difficult to have to move ahead with the field even with that unfortunate circumstance.”
 
 
I was curious about what kind of advice she received from other folks like Paul Allen or anyone else. “Stick to the basics and stay as calm as you can, build a crescendo, make sure with every name, you know how to say it (as it’s easy to flub names), practice, annunciate everything, don’t correct yourself (as I would be tempted to self-correct in the paddock. I just needed to take a stab at what I’m seeing with authority, guess it and change it if I had to.” Well, that seems like an easy list…not.
 
 
I asked Angela if she was nervous and wanted to know when she did start feeling comfortable with the whole process. “Yes I was nervous, doing something for the first time, especially something no one else had done before. No one had been in this position before. It was both horrifying and exciting at the same time. I started feeling comfortable after final race! I would amp myself up before each race, get some butterflies, but before I knew it, it was over.” She also said she used the same “rush” to get through the race each time. But she did say that it does go by so quick and there is no getting comfortable or settling down.
 
 
And race calling wasn’t the only thing she did that day, as she still had to perform her paddock analyst role as well! I asked her about jumping between the paddock and announcers booth all day. “It made the day go by quick! Saying names in the paddock kept the names on my mind, the paddock observations helped, as well as one last look at racing forms. Still I like walking around, and I would not like sitting in the announcer’s booth all day. The constant travel kept my mind off the pressure of calling races.”
 
 
One of the things I was curious about though, how do they get the margins down? I mean as they’re zipping along the track, how to the announcers know the difference between five and six furlongs? I mentioned how well of a job I think Arlington’s John G. Dooley does at that, but I was curious on how Angela approached that. “I gauged it just by eyeballing it, but seeing if the positions stay consistent. Usually the pole will divide the distance on dirt, but I can’t use the poles as much on turf.”
 
 
I think this was a significant moment in racing history. I think we have seen the gap close a bit more in a historically male-dominated industry. Angela notes, “[A significant move in history] isn’t what I was going for, just a move for the future. I am trying to encourage others to do what I am doing, not necessarily just race calls, but for women to take on any aspect of the sport that hasn’t been done.” Angela will take any and all other opportunities. “This lets others know that it could happen. Such scenarios are so rare and I’m blessed to be a part of it. I hope that it’s the first of many not first of only one. I think all women should step up and try, and it’s a nice change of pace.”
 
 
I asked Angela what she would want people to remember. “The whole day, how exciting it was, for me and everyone at the track, and the electricity at Canterbury on Saturday. Everyone was as excited as I was. My family and friends were out there, and were a big part of getting me through the day.” So would she ever do it again? “Yes, not tomorrow, but yes. I would love to do Canterbury again before taking the show on the road.”
 
Angela learned quite a bit from this entire experience. She learned about herself, how to handle high pressure situations and have fun with it! She wanted to have people have fun with her throughout the day. So far she has received lots of positive feedback. “I was capable of more than I thought I was; I can handle the attention and share the excitement with everyone!”
 
 
This year’s Canterbury meet was a big improvement over last year’s with increased field sizes (up 1 horse each field each day) and the handle responded accordingly. With more innovations I’m sure Canterbury will have a very successful future.
 
And as far as Angela’s career goes, the sky is no longer the limit.

 

 

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Older Comments about First Female Track Announcer - History Is Made At Canterbury!...

Congratulations, Angela - onward & upward!
Love to see history in the making. Very happy for Angela and she did a great job!
I don't think she will be since Jim Miller is back.
A great honor for Angela. I hope she is back at HAW this fall.
Great post Chris! You asked all the questions that I and any curious racing fan would have asked, thanks! If any track in America offered a "Track Announcer Fantasy Camp", I'd be the first to sign-up. Glad to hear Angela's enthusiasm to get more, young females involved, but that kills the dream of THIS MIDDLE-AGED, WHITE GUY! ;)
I loved this post Chris, read every single word! Congrats to Angela, what a great achievement.
Quite an important day in racing. Thanks, Chris, for sharing what Angela went through at Canterbury. I have always had the upmost respect for track announcers.

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 (Whoa - it's me - the DARK HORSE)
 
Greetings and welcome to my "dark" blog!  I have been a fan of horse racing since I was about 12 years old.  Growing up in Minnesota, my dad would take me and my brothers to Canterbury Downs and I would practically beg to go every weekend!!  I made my first "big" score there hitting the win, place, and exacta in the same race at age 14 (pulled in $84 with horses named Railroad Red and Racers Dream!).  I even had a poster in my bedroom of Lost Code winning the 1987 St. Paul Derby!
 
While finishing school in Chicago, I spent every possible moment at Arlington Park with my dad.  We took the time to develop computer programs (on the ever popular Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS) to try to find patterns and handicap races more accurately.  My dad taught me a lot about handicapping races, paying particular attention to class moves!

Since then, I have become more involved with horse racing each passing year through a variety of different media-based roles. Once deemed the "second best racing ambassador in Chicago" (hey I've been called worse), 
I now reside in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the USA and will be covering many different aspects of racing - in my unpredictable DARK HORSE STYLE!  
 
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