Terry Wallace, Oaklawn Park’s track announcer for 37 years, ended his record streak of consecutive race calls at 20,191 Friday when he handed over the microphone to Frank Mirahmadi for the fifth race, which was won by Heavenly Appeal. Wallace, who was back in the booth for the sixth race, took advantage of Mirahmadi’s visit to the track and enjoyed his very first Oaklawn race among the fans on the apron.
“For 37 years and counting I’ve had the best job in the world, calling races at Oaklawn Park,” said Wallace. “I’m very comfortable in knowing that my record isn’t going to be broken any time soon, so I’m thinking it might be fun to experience the track I love so much from a different prospective. With that said, I don’t plan on going anywhere for a while, but it is nice knowing I can step out of the booth from time to time.”
There is no better ambassador for Oaklawn Park than Terry Wallace,” said Assistant General Manager of Racing David Longinotti. “We are very proud of his accomplishment and felt that he deserved what most other racetrack announcers have – a backup for emergencies. We also felt that by giving Terry the opportunity to leave the booth every once in a while, we could utilize his popularity with our fans in other ways.”
Mirahmadi, who currently calls the Northern California fair circuit and is an analyst for the Television Games Network (TVG), has been retained as Oaklawn’s backup announcer for the 2011 season and was in town to familiarize himself with the facility. He previously served as track announcer at Hialeah Park and Louisiana Downs.
“It was an incredible honor to call a race at Oaklawn Park,” said Mirahmadi. “Terry is legendary and one of the classiest people in horse racing. This opportunity is most certainly one of the major highlights of my career.”
Oaklawn Park has submitted an application with the Guinness Book of World Records because it is believed that Wallace’s 20,191 calls is a world record. Wallace hit the 20,000th race call milestone with his call of the third race March 25, 2010. The mayor at the time declared it “Terry Wallace Day” in Hot Springs and he received congratulatory letters from Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe and former President Bill Clinton, who was raised in Hot Springs.
Below are some recent comments from fellow track announcers when told about Wallace’s streak ending.
Dave Johnson (Retired ABC Sports, New York Racing Association, The Meadowlands):
“In my 46 years of calling races, I think the most consecutive races I put together was a year or two….his record is amazing, and is a testament to the commitment has given Oaklawn Park and our great sport. I have been a fan of since he replaced Chic Anderson back in 1975. Now I bet horses, rather than call them, and I join the legions of fans who salute Terry. He’s one terrific race announcer, one of the all-time best.”
Tom Durkin (NBC Sports, New York Racing Association):
“I’d like to thank the people at Oaklawn, who 37 years ago promoted and gave Terry the job because that opened a vacancy at a place then called Florida Downs and allowed a young bum named Tom Durkin to get his first job calling races. I remember him coming by and giving me advice wishing me luck and I was shaking in my boots, but if it wasn’t for Terry and Oaklawn, I’d probably still be putting grips on golf clubs.”
Mike Battaglia (NBC Sports, Turfway Park, previously voice at Churchill Downs):
“This is what happens when you get old. You have to take a nap break in the middle of the day. Seriously though, congratulations to Terry on a long run. 20,000+ in a row is something to be proud of.”
Note: It was Mike Battaglia’s father, John Battaglia, who gave Wallace one of his very first announcing jobs at Latonia Racecourse in the fall of 1967.
Trevor Denman (ESPN, Santa Anita Park, Del Mar):
“Congratulations to Terry on a truly incredible milestone. He has been a great credit to all of us in the announcing profession. A true master of his art and a legend who will be admired for a very long time to come.”
Larry Collmus (Gulfstream Park, Monmouth Park):
“When someone says Oaklawn, the first thing that comes to mind is Terry Wallace. Hopefully he has many more “here they come into the short stretch of the mile runs” left in the tank.