When John Imbriale was named to the New York Racing Association’s full-time racing call in January, longtime endorsement thought he would enter the announcer’s booth in Belmont Park for the start of their spring meeting in April. .
“Well then life passed,” said Imbriale.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit New York and suspended the races for 2 ¹ / ₂ months, but Imbriale will be the voice of his return on Wednesday when the races begin at Belmont.
“There is so much anticipation and then the delay, now the anticipation again, now you want the day to come,” Imbriale said in a phone interview. “Certainly, we take into account every day what everyone has gone through to get to this point and we can finally open again, and we appreciate it. But I think everyone is eager to see those doors open again in Belmont on Wednesday. ”
Imbriale was a long time coming, who started at NYRA in 1979 after winning a newspaper contest to start a career and work in the press office. He became Tom Durkin’s backup announcer in 1990, filling New York’s Big Three racetracks ever since and adding the full-time job at Aqueduct last October.
But now the microphone is his at Belmont, Aqueduct, and Saratoga, making him the last author of the race in a strong tradition that includes Larry Collmus (whom he replaced), Durkin, Marshall Cassidy, Chic Anderson, Dave Johnson, and Fred Capossela.
“It is an honor,” said Imbriale. “It’s a ton of sturdy shoes to complete and follow. I’m going to do my best. As we get closer to the Belmont opening, I still find it difficult to spell out how I really feel about following these great advertisers.” .
Imbriale will also try to find the right words for Wednesday’s first race. It is a crowded race, with 11 horses, but Imbriale wants to add an appropriate word about the return of racing in New York amid the pandemic.
“There is a horse named Fauci running on Wednesday so I could play with it,” he said. “I guess it’s the most appropriate for a comeback race after COVID-19. I think the public, the fans, I’m not crazy about using this phrase all the time, but they are looking to get back to some kind of normality, even with calls from race. They don’t want all the extra stuff. They want to know about their horse and find out if they won or lost. “
Imbriale’s call will be broadcast over Belmont’s speakers, as usual, though this time his words may resonate a bit more through the empty podium. He just points to the rhythm and routine of a call to quickly get back to him after the long layoff.
“From my point of view, I just hope for a nice, clean break for the start of the first race,” said Imbriale, “and then we can go from there.”