(from Oak Tree stable notes)
Longtime Southern California broadcaster Gil Stratton has died at the age of 86, his Web site reported Oct. 12.
Stratton, who for many years was a sports anchor on KNXT (now KCBS) Channel 2 and KNX 1070 radio in Los Angeles, hosted a popular 30-minute live horse racing show from Santa Anita, Hollywood Park, and Del Mar on Saturday afternoons from 1955 through the early 1970s. He was also a longtime actor.
Originally sponsored by Union Oil, the show was carried on CBS affiliates in 34 western markets ranging from Mexico to Canada and as far east as Salt Lake City and Phoenix. The late Harry Henson called the races, and the show featured interviews and news packages with jockeys, trainers, owners, and others.
“Racing lost a very special friend,” said Ron Charles, president of Santa Anita. “Back in the 1960s and early 70s, Gil was instrumental in creating a huge fan base for us with the popularity of his Union Oil-sponsored telecasts. He was the voice of local racing in those days. With his work, Gil affected the sport as few others have. When I first started going to the races, I would never miss Gil’s shows, like so many others in those days. Racing owes Gil Stratton an enormous debt of gratitude.”
Santa Anita honored Stratton last February with a race named for him and video tributes.