Behind the Mic–Guest John Imbriale

John Imbriale is an announcer on the New York circuit, calling most of the Aqueduct season as well as backing up Tom Durkin during Belmont and Saratoga.  John has been with the New York Racing Association for decades and has many other duties with NYRA in addition to his fantastic race calling.

How did you catch the horse racing bug?

JI: Following Affirmed and Steve Cauthen through the 1978 Triple Crown races.

We all remember our first race call, what do you remember about your debut behind the mic?

JI: I was at Belmont Park in an announcer’s contest in the summer of 1979 and it was, by far, the most nervous I’ve ever been doing anything.

Calling in NY in the wintertime, any crazy weather days in the booth that come to mind? Fog, snow etc

JI: As I like to say, I’m at my best when I can’t see a darn thing!  Fog is always fun at the Big A.

You’ve gotten to call some amazingly talented horses in your career, who do you think is the best horse you’ve ever announced?

JI: I did get the opportunity to call Artax in a race.  He may not have been the best horse but he was probably the fastest.

Of the three NY tracks, which announcers booth is the best/easiest to call races from?

JI: No doubt Aqueduct – sight lines are terrific, no obstacles in the infield.

Do you have other duties with NYRA in addition to calling the races?

JI: I’m also the Director of Production and work on a regular basis with the various shows we produce. 

You get to share the race calling duties at NYRA with the great Tom Durkin.  What’s your favorite Tom Durkin call?

JI: That’s like asking for my favorite Sinatra song.  Very difficult to pick one but I’ll say the 1998 Belmont Stakes when Victory Gallop nosed out Real Quiet and denied him the Triple Crown. 

Are you a handicapper and do you play the races?  If so what’s one of your most memorable scores at the windows?

JI: I used to play, never had a memorable score, so now I don’t play.

With all the changes in racing going on, what do you see ahead for New York racing for the next five years?

JI: Not sure.  Many people much smarter than me will hopefully steer us in the right direction. 

The last race at Aqueduct is over and I want a great meal in Ozone Park, where are you sending me to?

JI: Don Peppe’s.  Italian restaurant 2 blocks away.  The best baked clams anywhere!

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