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    Santa Anita track announcer’s voice carries to Saratoga
    • July 13, 2023

    It’s been quite a summer for Santa Anita track announcer Frank Mirahmadi, who can best be described as not only a solid race caller but also one of the best impersonators I’ve ever heard and a guy who could easily have chosen stand-up comedy as a career.

    How many people are fortunate enough to have a horse named after them? Frank did, when the 2-year-old colt Mirahmadi debuted at Santa Anita on June 17. The son of Into Mischief finished second as the 3-5 favorite in the Fasig-Tipton Futurity and will most likely return sometime during the Del Mar meet.

    As if that wasn’t thrilling enough, Mirahmadi debuted as Saratoga’s full-time track announcer Thursday, taking over for John Imbriale. It was a dream come true for Mirahmadi when he landed the Santa Anita gig, but the Saratoga job is right up there when you’re looking for a prestigious racing venue.

    “When Saratoga calls, there’s only one answer. It’s actually, ‘Yes and thank you’,” Mirahmadi told me in June as Santa Anita’s winter and spring meets were wrapping up. “Those are the three words that come out.”

    When it comes to historic race tracks, Santa Anita, Del Mar, Saratoga, Belmont and Churchill Downs stand out. They’re the cream of the crop. The number of great race horses that have run at those five venues would more than fill a dream scrapbook for any racing afficiando.

    Mirahmadi applied for the Santa Anita job in 2016, was turned down, and then months later was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. He underwent emergency surgery, a follow-up procedure and chemotherapy treatments. So it’s understandable how he takes greater appreciation for each accolade sent his way, how he looks at each day as something special.

    “Since that time, I have been incredibly fortunate to get my dream job at Santa Anita and now this opportunity,” he said. “I understand what a miracle it all is. I enjoy every day. It’s good to be on the right side of the soil.”

    In addition to Santa Anita and Saratoga, Mirahmadi was the regular track announcer the past eight years at Monmouth Park. He’s also called races at Hialeah, Turf Paradise, Oaklawn Park, Louisiana Downs, Golden Gate Fields and Aqueduct since beginning his career full-time in 1996. He’d called a few races at Saratoga when Imbriale would take time off.  Imbriale played a big role in Mirahmadi landing the full-time job when he decided to cut back and concentrate on Belmont.

    “That’s what kind of guy I’m replacing at Saratoga,” Mirahmadi said. “He set me up for success there in a big way, and I’m very grateful for that. It’s always good when the person who is leaving the job is on your side. He told me before he told New York (NYRA) that he was going to retire. He wanted me to think about where I stood as far as possibly wanting to go to New York full-time.”

    Mirahmadi would never leave for New York full-time. He loves Santa Anita too much, but spending the summers at Saratoga is not a shabby vacation spot when you’re waiting for Santa Anita’s fall meet.

    “Saratoga, although it’s such an amazing place and venue and a big party, for the race caller it’s a daunting task for 40 days of world-class racing, full fields, high expectations and a very difficult vantage point to watch the races from. It’s going to be a very tough assignment, but a very fulfilling one,” he said.

    “Johnny didn’t need that pressure any more. He’s a great man and he’s become a very close  friend. I know he’s happy (at Belmont) and I know how much he helped me get here. I appreciate that. When people set you up for success, that’s all it can be.”

    Of course, it’s not enough to be given the job. A track announcer also has to deliver, and Mirahmadi has done a great job when given the opportunity.

    “With these jobs as an announcer, as we know there’s only one person that gets the job,” he said. “To get it from these two jobs, I’m now going on 27 years … 27 years of traveling around the country hoping for opportunities like this. The main meet (for me) will always be Santa Anita, my home track and my favorite track. I’ve always said it’s my favorite place in the world. So for me, I have fulfilled all my career dreams and to call the Breeders’ Cup those two days (in 2019), it was (only) on track and not for NBC, but I still really enjoyed that.”

    Racing fans from coast to coast are enjoying Mirahmadi’s calls and that’s all that matters to him.

    Follow Art Wilson on Twitter @Sham73

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    ​ Orange County Register