Photo: MD State Fair
What used to be billed as “The 10 greatest days of Summer” now a days is simply known, without all the fanfare as the Maryland State Fair, with 10 of 11 days having live thoroughbred horse racing. Opening Day is Friday August 23rd with live racing everyday through Monday, September 2nd, except for Tuesday, August 27th is dark.
It’s sad to think that it’s been nearly a half century since Timonium Fair Grounds was the site for horse racing in Maryland, all summer long. The Timonium Summer Meet was where many local horse racing fans “cut their teeth” at the historic fair ground track. I’d be among that group, experiencing the joy have picking a winning horse during my maiden voyage in 1964.
If it weren’t for racing at Timonium, former Betfair Hollywood Park race caller Vic Stauffer may have taken a different career path. Many moons ago Stauffer was visiting a friend who happened to be working at Timonium. As the story goes, the regular race caller, most likely legendary Maryland race caller Dick Woolley, was unable to be there. Without having ever called a race prior to that day, Stauffer’s friend encouraged track management to allow Stauffer to fill in. And that’s how he got his start.
Here’s one of Vic’s light hearted memorable calls during an earthquake on June 16, 2005…
For those not familiar with where a race caller is located at the track, they are usually in a shed-like building at the top of the tracks grandstand, no less than 4 stories about the track surface. So you can imagine why Mr. Stauffer was saying his “goodbyes”, while never missing a beat in calling the race and concluding with “… in a real shaker”.
Triple Crown race caller since 2012, Larry Collmus also can point to Timonium for helping spark his interest in the sport. “I grew up in Maryland and my father installed the sound system at the Maryland State Fair (Timonium). I worked for him in the summer. Since I was mechanically incompetent, my job was to monitor the sound levels at the race track and tell my father if there were any problems”.
Collmus continued, “I became an instant racing fan and got to know the guys in the press box. The man that ran the press box, Eddie McMullen let me work for him at the bigger tracks in Maryland. I was there every weekend and would do impression of announcers. A couple of the press guys said I should try it for real, so I started practicing. Chick Lang, the GM of Pimlico heard me and offered me the chance to be the backup announcer on the circuit. I called my first live race in 1985 at Bowie, and was the assistant announcer for two years at all the Maryland tracks.”
Here’s a Collmus Classic from 2010 at Monmouth Park, which catapulted him into the national spotlight, making him the front-runner to replace Tom Durkin as the voice of the Triple Crown races.
If you are a fan of HRTV, I received word late on Wednesday that they would be showing races from Timonium, except on Saturdays “as space allows”. So if you tune in and want some action, my “opinions” are just a click away.