By Lynne Snierson
Jessica Paquette, senior director of communications at Suffolk Downs, wears many hats in her role at the track and now she can add race-calling to the long list.
Track announcer T.D. Thornton was caught in traffic jams caused when a tornado tore through the city of Revere, where the stable area of Suffolk Downs is located, the morning of July 28. Thornton notified officials he would miss first race post at 12:45 p.m. EDT, so Paquette headed from the paddock, where she offers pre-race analysis and handicapping advice for the on-track and simulcast audience, to the announcer's booth.
She called the first race, which was a first for her.
"I just had so much fun," said Paquette, who is also the president of the New England Turf Writers Association. "I will admit I was really nervous, but tried to relax and roll with it. It was a great opportunity, and Worth the Worry is now a horse I will always remember."
Shade Tree Farm's Worth the Worry, trained by Wayne Marcoux, finished first by three-quarters of a length in the six-furlong race in 1:12.65 on a sloppy main track under Luis Garcia. Thornton arrived in time for the second race.
The tornado, which was confirmed by the National Weather Service, caused severe damage including downed power lines, uprooted trees, multiple building collapsed, and street closures in the city, but no horses or humans were injured at the track and no structures on track grounds were affected.