Tampa Bay Downs is proud to introduce its blog for the 2012-13 season, “Racing in the Sunshine.” By giving visitors an up-close and personal look at the majestic world of Thoroughbred racing, the sport’s participants – racing officials, horsemen, backstretch workers, trainers, jockeys and track employees – hope to entertain and inform fans everywhere.
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Richard Grunder, Track Announcer
A Tampa Bay Downs insider’s
opinions, observations and reflections about their favorite sport
Richard Grunder has called Thoroughbred horse races at tracks
the average fan doesn’t know exist. He was 20 when he broke into the profession
in 1972 at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon,
Saskatchewan, roughly 17,000
furlongs from Tampa Bay Downs. He narrowed that distance early in his career,
announcing at Portland Meadows in Oregon, Arapahoe Park in Colorado, Prairie
Meadows in Iowa, Canterbury Park in Minnesota, several tracks in Nebraska and
Waterford (now Mountaineer) in West Virginia. Now in his 29th season
at Oldsmar, Grunder has made enough friends and spun enough track tales to last
a lifetime. His masterful call of the 2007 Tampa Bay Derby stretch duel between
Street Sense and Any Given Saturday is a YouTube classic. Grunder also hosts
the track’s Morning Glory Club on Saturday mornings. He is a jockey’s agent in
the summer at CanterburyPark in Minnesota,
where he has helped Derek Bell win six track titles and Tanner Riggs claim the
2012 crown. The Dodge City, Kan. native and wife Diana celebrate their 39th
anniversary in April. Their son Chad
is a high school teacher and coach in El
BEST HORSE I EVER
WATCHED: Here at TampaBayDowns, Street
Sense. But I was at the 1988 Breeders’ Cup at Churchill Downs on a cold, dark,
rainy day – the only Breeders’ Cup I’ve been to – to see Alysheba win the
Classic and Personal Ensign rally in the Distaff when she looked to have no
chance. It’s an afternoon I’ll never forget.
HOW I GOT STARTED IN
RACING: My dad, who worked for the Santa Fe Railroad, took a leave of
absence every summer and ran a small stable. I cut my teeth in first grade at La MesaPark
in New Mexico,
where I ran the photo-finish pictures to the glassed-in display case.
MY BIGGEST INFLUENCE:
No doubt, my father, who passed away in 1996. He was from the Greatest
Generation; a tough guy who served in the Army in World War II. He told me I
would be a very rich man if I was able to go to a job I liked every day.
ONE CHANGE I WOULD
MAKE TO RACING: Eliminate artificial surfaces. I guess it’s being a
traditionalist, but I don’t think it’s fair for stakes horses to have to switch
from dirt to synthetic.
MY FAVORITE SPORTS
TEAM/ATHLETE: KansasState football and Hall
of Fame jockey Russell Baze. I don’t hardly know Russell, but just his
steadiness every day, whether it’s the first race at Golden Gate or a major
stakes, is impressive.
NO. 1 ON MY BUCKET LIST:
Making my living at the racetrack. I feel pretty blessed.
FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT
TAMPA BAY DOWNS:
Quality racing, even playing surfaces and ownership and management who are
horse people and love racing.
BEST MORNING GLORY
CLUB GUEST: A three-way photo finish between a couple of Hall of Famers and
friends – trainer Carl Nafzger and jockey Kent Desormeaux – and a future Hall
of Famer, jockey Ramon Dominguez.
SHOW: The Godfather and 48 Hours Investigates on CBS.
ADVICE TO SOMEONE STARTING
IN RACING: Enjoy the run, be ready to travel and remember: it beats a