All of the inside scoop on Virginia's biggest day of Steeplechase racing -- the Virginia Gold Cup. Hey, 50,000 of your closest friends can't be wrong! Do you have your tickets yet?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Will O’Keefe is to jump racing what Al Michaels is to Monday Night Football. Around horses all his life, the job came naturally, and now Will does the “play by play” race calls at all the Virginia steeplechases and a few in Maryland. Somehow or another, he memorizes all the horses names based on their color or their jockey’s silks. Magically, he can spit this out precisely during the heat of battle, rarely confusing one brown horse for another brown horse. (Aren’t almost all of them brown?)

Here’s one of his favorite stories:

“When I am announcing a race, I like for the race to tell a story and I’ll repeat that theme throughout the race. One of my favorite moments was in the 1990 Gold Cup when Jack Fisher was setting the pace on Call Louis (the 1989 Gold Cup winner) and Patrick Worrall was stalking him on Von Csadek (who won the race in 1988). Jack kept looking back to check out the status of his biggest competitor, Von Csadek (and for good reason, two years prior when Von Csadek won the Gold Cup the nearest horse was a football field behind.)”

(While it’s good to know where your competitors are, it isn’t particularly helpful to the horse to be shifting weight and looking over your shoulder all the time. Just imagine doing it on a bicycle…)

“Finally I said over the PA System, ‘Jack, he’s still there!’ Shortly, Von Csadek made his move, passed Call Louis and Jack didn’t have to look back as Von Csadek went on to his second win in the Virginia Gold Cup with Call Louis second.”

Fisher got over it, and cranked up a record shattering performance of six Gold Cup wins on board the now happily retired and quite famous Saluter (who, by the way, is what horse folks call “bay” which is a secret code word for “brown.”)

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