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Monticello racing gets lost in the fog

January 31, 2013

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What's the hardest call for a race announcer? Some might say calling races in the fog.
Howard Oil, Monticello Raceway's longtime race caller confronted that situation on Wednesday when the Mighty M was shrouded in fog.
Still, the veteran announcer followed as best he could the moving horses up the backside which were not clearly visible and "jive-talked" until the field rounded the paddock turn when he could actually see the action as they raced for paydirt.
"I could hardly see a thing during some of the races but my early calls, when the horses were visible in front of the grandstand, held up as the fields came out of the fog at the top of the lane and raced for the wire,” Oil said undauntedly at the end of a trying afternoon of race announcing. "Yeah, it wasn't the easiest afternoon I've ever had.”
Twelve races went to post and it was during the early part of the card when the warm temperatures helped the heavy snow to evaporate thus causing the heavy fog.
The job for John Flynn, the program director, who is also the official chart caller, was no picnic either. However, when he couldn't make out the horses or their numbers he just wrote "fog" for the horses' position at the points when he was unsure of the racing order.
"I could see pretty good in the homestretch and we didn't have any trouble with the photo finishes,” Flynn related.
For Oil his job was tougher because when he couldn't see the racing horses he didn't want dead air so he talked about some of the race leaders past performances or anything else that came to his mind until the field was visible again.
The featured race on Wednesday was a trot for $15,000 claimers and/or non-winners of $600 per start which was copped by Halfpipe in a time of 2:01.3 over the muddy racing surface. Jimmy Marohn, currently the meets leading driver again this year, handled the driving chores for trainer Danny Gill.
Flynn officially charted Halfpipe's race line as follows: (pp)4; ( ¼ )fog; ( 1/2)1; (3/4)fog; (str)fog; (finish) 1/3 --- 2:01.3.
Oil's race call was a bit harder but by the time the field disappeared in the fog and came back to view in the homestretch Oil entertained the fans with his comments. And, of course he called the exact order of finish on the wire. (Monticello)
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