My 5 Favorite Santa Anita Trevor Denman Calls

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D.S. Williamson

December 9th, 2015

Trevor Denman is retiring from calling races at Santa Anita. On Dec. 26, for the first time in what seems like forever, Trevor Denman won't call races at the Great Race Place. It's difficult to explain how important Denman is to many of us who perfected our craft at Santa Anita. I used to live in Arizona. I'd frequent Turf Paradise often. Naturally, the big track that my brother and I bet was Santa Anita. Starting in 1998, the year that I moved to Los Angeles, my father and brother would make yearly trips to Santa Anita for the Santa Anita Derby before I'd go to Turf Paradise and bet on the races with my father and brother on Derby Day.

Denman's calls became etched in our minds. My friend Kent, who lived in Los Angeles for a number of years and who still makes trips to Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup, and my brother Eddie became experts (or try to!) at mimicking Trevor's signature race calls. To the three of us, Trevor is Santa Anita. To us, he's as big of a celebrity in horse racing as any of the trainers, jockeys, or horses. That's not to say that we won't enjoy Frank Mirahmadi's and Michael Wrona's race calling. Oh, we will. And, there's always Del Mar, but with Trevor and Santa Anita now consigned to history here are my five favorite calls he made at The Great Race Place.

1. 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic, Zenyatta

"This is unbelievable!  What a performance!  One we will never forget!" Without a doubt, my most memorable race call from Trevor is the 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic when Mike Smith switched Zenyatta from the inside to the outside. She took off like a rocket in the middle of the stretch to run past Gio Ponti as if he were standing still. It's one of the greatest performances in the history of thoroughbred racing.

2. 1997 Santa Anita Derby, Free House over Silver Charm

Trainer Bob Baffert had finished second in the Kentucky Derby with Cavonnier in 1996. In 1997, he won the Kentucky Derby with Silver Charm.  Baffert's Triple Crown dominance began with the Bob and Beverly Lewis owned son of Silver Buck. But, Charm didn't win the 1997 Santa Anita Derby. That victory went to the brilliant, J. Paco Gonzalez trained Free House. The two horses had knocked heads and would knock heads again numerous times in 1997. "They're going to run to the wire together!  Free House, a nose!"

3. 2015 San Antonio Stakes, Shared Belief over California Chrome

"What a thriller this one is! Shared Belief has him! And, Shared Belief just exuding class!" Oh, what could have been if Shared Belief hadn't passed away. Shared Belief and California Chrome battled in the 2014 San Antonio Invitational Stakes with Shared Belief showing that he was, at least at that time, better than 2014 Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome. 2016 was setting up as what could have been a great year for the Shared Belief-California Chrome rivalry if not for Shared Belief's untimely passing.

4. 2001 Santa Anita Handicap, Tiznow

"Tiznow on the outside, he's absolutely cantering!  Chris McCarron waiting, waiting, waiting..." That's what Trevor said as McCarron and Tiznow came around the final turn in the 2001 Santa Anita Handicap. It was one of the rare times that Trevor got to call a race with the only 2 time winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic entered. To me, Trevor's classy call in the 2001 Big 'Cap is a great example of how Trevor handles races where one horse is so dominant over all of the others.

5. 1989 Santa Anita Derby - Sunday Silence

Nobody knew it in 1989, but Sunday Silence would have the greatest effect on Japanese thoroughbred racing in the sport's history. Like the 2001 Santa Anita Handicap, Trevor handled Sunday Silence's 1989 romp in the Santa Anita Derby with class. "Pat Valenzuela hasn't moved!  I think the Derby's over," Trevor said as P. Val and Sunday Silence rushed around the final turn. It was awesome. Sunday Silence went on to win the 1989 Kentucky Derby, 1989 Preakness Stakes and the 1989 Breeders' Cup Classic.

If you haven't already found them make sure to try out this week's handicapping tournaments at BetAmerica!  A great addition to your pari-mutuel wagering this, and every, weekend.