Trevor Denman raised the bar to unprecedented heights in North American race calling when he came to Santa Anita more than three decades ago from his native South Africa.
The 2014-15 meeting marks Denman's 32nd anniversary as Public Address Commentator at The Great Race Place, where he started in 1983.
Following are recollections of his most memorable calls of the Santa Anita Handicap, for which he will do honors again Saturday.
“One of the best surely would have been Greinton versus Herat (in 1986). That still sticks in my brain. Of course, the first one you call is memorable. That was Lord at War (1985) with Bill Shoemaker. That was great, too.
“Martial Law (1989) still stands out as one of the biggest upsets in history (at 50-1). That was a great Big 'Cap. Lava Man (2006 and 2007) was a very popular winner. Obviously, Game On Dude has to be one of the highlights of Santa Anita Handicap history, particularly his win in 2013 by a Big 'Cap record 7 3/4 lengths.
“Chantal Sutherland became the first female rider to win it (in 2011 on Game On Dude, who would go on to make history by being the only horse to win the race three times).
“I wasn't here when John Henry actually won the Big 'Cap in 1981 and 1982, but I called his race the year before he retired. His races would have to be among the most memorable.
“But Game On Dude really dominated the last decades, when you think about.”
On Shared Belief, the 3-5 morning line favorite for Saturday's classic: “He's head and shoulders above this field. If nothing weird happens, nobody comes close to him in that field.
“But you know horse racing. There's no such thing as a certainty, is there? But beyond the unbelievable, he has to win. He's by far the best. Without Bayern and without California Chrome, gosh, they don't have a shot against him, do they?”
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