Blog from the Booth

3 Jul

By Chris Griffin

When I traveled the globe with the “World Famous Harlem Globetrotters”, never would I have imagined I’d be in the booth entering another year of my horse racing career. 


It was a conversation with track announcer Frank Mirahmadi (also called races in Pleasanton) about announcing a horse race if an opportunity presented itself. Well as things turned out, I ended up with a job. It was at the Humboldt County Fair, a two-week opportunity at a job. I spent weeks studying and preparing for six furlong races, two turn races, a mile and a sixteenth race. So of course, when I arrived in Ferndale the first race was, you guessed it, a 220 yard mule race. Wasn’t fully prepared for this and at 1/9 thought Bad News Bubba couldn’t lose. So wrongfully I prepared to call the name Bad News Bubba as a clear winner. They loaded in the gate and with shaking knees, one big gulp. The gates popped open and Bad News Bubba broke LAST from the rail. Quickly running through the names of other mules in the field, I see a streaking mule with big floppy ears rolling on the inside. 


It was at that moment it all came back to me. I was a fan of this sport! The adrenaline rush of seeing, in this case a mule, charging next to the rail to win by a nose was the perfect way to start my career. Since then there have been many moments. Exciting races and photo finishes. The mechanics have adapted, the knees don’t shake as much, but the thrill remains the same. 


As I come back to Pleasanton, it is obviously different. The empty grandstands are part of a new reality we are all learning together, just like I have learned with each race in my career. The fair brings people together to enjoy heart pounding action accompanied by smiles and families. We miss crowds this year, we will remember this next year when we hopefully get back to packed grandstands. I walk through the gates and head upstairs on the elevator. It is quiet and peaceful, but when the horses are on the track, the rush comes back. The excitement flows and I work to bring the action to those watching from the comfort of their homes. In a year where there has been uncertainty, one thing I am certain of is Pleasanton is one of the most majestic and historic treasures in Northern California. There will be a time when the gates will open again, when we will have the rides, the games, and oh yeah the thrill of the horse races. I’d be honored to call the action that day. 

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