Battaglia's Enthusiasm a Part of His Legacy Away From Announcer's Booth
There were no hashtags or top ten lists.
No weepy recollections about how his calls of bottom-level maiden claimers in driving snowstorms in December helped save Christmas.
There was just the announcement and quiet understanding that, yeah, maybe it is time for Mike Battaglia to move on from the announcer’s booth.
And that’s all it is for now. He’s moving on from the booth to an office where as associate vice president Battaglia “will serve as the track’s ambassador—teaching the art and science of handicapping, engaging fans, and helping to promote the track to players,” according to a Turfway release.
Battaglia, 66, has called races at Turfway for 43 years. In fact, his first year there was one year after his father, the late John Battaglia, established the Spiral Stakes, and his last night of race calling will come Saturday, March 12, on John Battaglia Stakes night.
“It was never the plan to be a race caller for such a long time, but I have enjoyed every minute of it and feel blessed to have been doing this for a fantastic 44 years,” Battaglia said. “I couldn’t ask for more than that.”
And when it comes to Battaglia, it’s that attitude I’ll miss most and that attitude that deserves celebrating even if there are no hashtags or top ten lists.
Battaglia is one of the first names and voices I got to know when I moved to Kentucky in May 2002. He called my first-ever signer (the Pick 4 on 2002 Kentucky Cup day anchored by Vindication), and he’s always a welcome presence in the Keeneland press box.
Forty-four years in this game, and he still shows up to work every day with a smile on his face and wagering opinions that he’s ready to back. Some might say they’d walk into Keeneland with a smile on their face every day, too, but believe me, it’s easier said than done when it’s every day. But more importantly, I’ve seen that same smile in January at Turfway or in May at the Derby.
A generation separates us, but I always saw Battaglia as a kindred spirit. He loves the game and loves betting on it. I do, too, and I hope I still do after 40+ years in it.