November 1, 2012, San Francisco, CA. ~ Now in his seventh year of calling races on the Northern California Fair Circuit as well as the January to April season at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, Frank Mirahmadi might call the races imitating the voice of Marlon Brando. Horsereporter wondered what makes a good race announcer.
Frank Mirahmadi was raised in Los Angeles, California, not far from Hollywood Race Park. In 1992 he was selling advertising and practicing calling races, his dream job – inspired by the likes of Harry Henson, who then called races at Hollywood Park, and Trevor Denman, often called, the Voice of Del Mar. Mirahmadi perfected an imitation of the South African voice of Trevor Denman while calling a race.
“I made a tape calling races using voices other than my own, and sent it to Hollywood Park,” said Mirahmadi. When he called the management to pursue his dream, they were skeptical of the newcomer. “I promise you that I can do it,” was his confident reply. Eventually he was invited to use his own voice to make another tape of two races during a meet, while using binoculars to follow and call the race. Even though his debut was a success and the race track personnel were impressed, it did not lead to a job offer. “I sent that tape all over, but it was very disappointing that no one called,” he said.
Slide forward two years and Mirahmadi went to Jacksonville, Florida, for his advertising career. An acquaintance at Bluegrass Downs in Paducah, Kentucky, arranged for him to call a few races there – and he added these to his demo tape.
That same year he was a fill-in caller at Hollywood Park and those races were added to the tape. “I mailed this tape around the country as well,” he said. This time his persistence paid off. Hialeah Park gave him a call.
“December 24 will be the anniversary of 20 years since my first race call at Hollywood Park (12/24/92),” said Mirahmadi. “My first full-time announcing job was at Hialeah Park in Florida. I began there on March 17, 2006. I was their announcer for six seasons until they closed for Thoroughbred racing in 2001.”
“I never trained for the job,” he continued. “My ability to imitate many voices helped me get started. Much of it was on-the-job training after my career began, but I was fortunate to have opportunities at a couple of big tracks which helped me get into other places.”
What traits besides persistence to be a caller would Mirahmadi credit with making him a good race announcer?
“I watch a lot of races, and I read a lot about horse racing. A caller must have a good memory, and of course, a good voice. Accuracy is a must. We are perfectionists and hold ourselves to a high standard to get the facts correct.”
“Announcing horse races is so much fun. It’s the equivalent of play-by-play in sports broadcasting. There’s a lot of excitement and it’s a privilege to be the person describing the action. Horse racing is by far my favorite sport, so I get to be around what I love all the time. In addition to announcing races, I am a television analyst for TVG (Television Games Network). I work there in between announcing jobs.”
To keep things simple, Mirahmadi never bets on the races. “I used to bet, but I don’t anymore,” he said. “This is a job I’ve always dreamed of having, and a caller must keep a level of objectivity, so it’s not for me personally.”
Mirahmadi still amuses himself and the crowd from time to time by calling races in other voices. Two of his favorite alternate voices are Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro. He admits to a few more goals such as announcing a Triple Crown race. He also loves calling Arabian races and would love to follow the Arabians to Abu Dhabi for the season.