Kelly, who spent more than two decades working at The New York Racing
Association, Inc. (NYRA) tracks, died early Monday morning at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical
Center in New York City after a long illness.
Kelly, 61 at the time of his passing, most recently served as an
Equibase chartcaller at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park,
and Saratoga Race Course. He had been based at those three NYRA tracks for
Equibase since 1998, when the company hired him as a field supervisor.
“Jack Kelly was one of the most beloved individuals at the
racetrack,” said NYRA President and CEO Charles
Hayward. “He was a man of great intelligence and
passion, always kind, generous, and genuine in his dealings with people. Jack
will be sorely missed.”
A Philadelphia-native and a graduate of Cal State Hayward, Kelly was
introduced to racing at a young age. He called charts on the Fresno Fair and Southern California circuits for SportsEye in the early 1980’s before
joining the Daily Racing Form’s East
Coast staff in 1984.
While working at the NYRA tracks, he made many close friends, and was universally
“Jack was an extremely perseverant individual,” said NYRA
Track Announcer Tom Durkin. “He had more than a dozen knee surgeries and
to prove a point he went out and ran in six New York City Marathons. He saw
heavy combat in Vietnam,
which he never talked about. He was a very courageous person in many, many ways;
strong, silent, and a man of great character.”
Kelly also played in many of the golf tournaments with trainers,
something that Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey remembers fondly.
“It was always a joy to play golf with Jack,” McGaughey
said. “He was a racetrack guy through and through, and loved to talk
about horses and races. I enjoyed hearing the different perspective that he had
as a chartcaller. Jack fought a long, hard battle and I hope that he’s in
a better place for it.”
Kelly once estimated that he had worked at 44 different racetracks
through the years and had probably called over 50,000 races.
He is survived by his wife, Nancy, three sisters and a brother. Nancy is the vice
president of development for Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation and
executive director of The Jockey Club Foundation.
Visiting and funeral arrangements are as follows:
Visiting: Leo F.
Kearns Funeral Home, 445 E. Meadow
Ave., East Meadow, NY (516) 794-0500
Wednesday 7-9 p.m.
Thursday 2-5 and 7-9 p.m.
Funeral: Friday: 11
a.m. Mass at St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church, 75 Post Avenue,
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Jockey Club
Foundation, 40 E. 52nd
Street, New York, NY 10022.