Denman Begins 20th Year Calling Del Mar

(from Del Mar report)
It's not uncommon to hear someone say he or she is having too much fun to call it work. Trevor Denman, about to begin his 20th season calling races for the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, qualifies as one of those people.

"I promise you it feels like six (seasons)," Denman says. "I would almost say it's new; it's still a novelty."

The South Africa native who came to the United States in the fall of 1983 cooed his first "And away they go" as the 1984 Del Mar season began. After 12 years of race-calling in Durban, South Africa, Denman, at 31, became the announcer at the 1983 Oak Tree meet at Santa Anita and then served as assistant to Dave Johnson for the 1983-84 winter-spring season at the Arcadia oval.

Denman is the first to acknowledge that he was the recipient of a double-dose of good luck at that time.

"I got very lucky," he said. "Harry Henson retired (at Del Mar) that same year I came here and then just by sheer coincidence Dave Johnson's contract (at Santa Anita) ran out. So I was lucky twice." He was hired by Del Mar and then became the main announcer at Santa Anita for the 1984-85 season. And things have stayed the same since. Denman's special style has carried him to the heights among North American race callers.

Looking ahead to this season, Denman said, by telephone from his Kellogg, Minnesota, farm, "Opening day is always the strangest day because I've been off for three months. You just need to kick back into that groove again. Maybe for the first three or four races, it feels a little strange. It's not nerve-wracking; it's just something different.

"On the other hand, opening day at Del Mar is probably one of the best of the entire year. There are very few days that can equal opening day at Del Mar."

Denman, who began his career at 18 in his native land, credits Del Mar with a certain uniqueness among North American tracks, and explains it this way: "I don't think there's another racetrack in the country that starts its meet like that. When I say 'They're approaching the gate,' the crowd goes crazy; when they reach the gate they go crazy, and when they start loading number 1 they go crazy. The crowd is totally all about fun."

During the Denman years, the biggest change he's seen iat Del Mar s in the new grandstand.

"The old one was quaint," he said, "but now it's one of the most imposing grandstands in the world. And from my personal point of view, you'd have to say it has the best sound system in the world. Nothing can beat it."