You would be hard pressed to find an announcer more closely identified with a racetrack than Ed Burgart and Los Alamitos Race Course.
Over the past 39 years, Burgart has become as much a part of this storied facility as the paddock, the winner’s circle and the finish line. He has called Arabians, mules, harness horses and Thoroughbreds, but it’s his signature Quarter Horse calls that have made him an icon and the most recognizable voice in the sport.
In addition, his duties at Los Alamitos have included that of morning-line maker; he does individual comments on each horse in the program and his selections and suggested exotic plays are a must-read for casual and serious players alike. Not to mention during the daytime thoroughbred meets, when he does double duty with the pre-card handicapping seminar and then serves as simulcast host before heading up to the booth to describe the night action.
There is also a great relationship with track owner Ed Allred, one that is based on a shared love of the game and a mutual respect. Following his call of Sunday’s Grade 1 Los Alamitos Two Million Futurity at 400 yards, Burgart will be shutting off his mic for the last time and handing it over to his friend and longtime racing announcer Michael Wrona.
Burgart won’t be leaving Los Alamitos completely, as he will continue to do the morning line for the night programs. Thanks to modern technology, he will be able to do this from his home in Prescott, Arizona, and while on the road when vacationing with his wife, Marsha.
Burgart was asked about his feelings as that final evening approaches.
“I doubt everything will sink in until the horses go into the gate for the Los Al Two Million. I don’t want to take away from the importance of a race like the Two Million because of my last call.
“I really want the horses to get the attention more than me because without the horses running, I wouldn’t be announcing. But it certainly doesn’t seem like it has been 39 years that I have occupied the same booth. It’s crazy. I’m sure my emotions will start churning more on the final day.”
A great matchup in the Grade 1 Champion of Champions and some legendary sprinters rank high in Burgart’s memory bank.
“I still vividly remember my first Champion of Champions call in 1981 when Denim N Diamonds beat Sgt Pepper Feature. It was my first major race to call and I still remember saying ‘It’s the mare.’
“Announcing Refrigerator’s three wins in the Champion of Champions was quite special as well, and calling Royal Trips’ 99-1 win in the 1992 Southern California Derby at Hollywood Park was quite memorable since he ended Corona Chick’s win streak at 13.”
Burgart has seen a lot changes at Los Alamitos Race Course, including six years ago when Ed Allred stepped up following the closure of Hollywood Park. Allred elongated the track to one mile to provide for needed stabling and eight weeks of Thoroughbred racing opportunities.
“Who knows where Thoroughbred racing in Southern California would be if Dr. Allred hadn’t stepped up to the plate by expanding the Los Alamitos surface to a one-mile oval with the closure of Hollywood Park,” Burgart said. “The late Brad McKinzie was instrumental as well. California Chrome’s training gave Los Alamitos national attention and the Thoroughbred industry found a place to stable and train year-round after Hollywood Park closed.”
On Friday night, November 22, Los Alamitos management surprised the legendary announcer with the naming of the track’s new sports bar and wagering lounge “Burgart’s” in his honor.
“I was totally caught off guard and quite shocked,” he added. “Dave Weaver from TVG texted me around 2 p.m. that afternoon and said he wanted to do a quick (segment) with me about the opening of the new sports lounge.
“When (Los Alamitos Race Course president) Cathy Monji stepped up next to a covered canvas and read comments from Dr. Allred live on TVG, I was standing there totally shocked, but shocked in a good way. Dr. Allred has been a great employer ever since I first met him when I was hired in publicity in 1977.”
One of Burgart’s traditions at the end of each program is to say “Good Night” to a different person. Sunday evening will be our chance to say “Good Night to Ed Burgart,” and to thank him for nearly four decades of thrilling race calls as the voice of Quarter Horse racing at Los Alamitos.
Ed Burgart Bobblehead Giveaway Night will take place on the evening of the Champion of Champions on Saturday, December 14 at Los Alamitos starting at 5 p.m. The limited edition 6-inch figurine will be given to patrons with a paid admission and while supplies last (one per patron).
Los Alamitos Race Course will conduct a special Meet & Greet with Ed Burgart following the last daytime Thoroughbred race here on Sunday (at approximately 5 p.m.).
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