06/27/2014 11:46AM

Burgart will pull double duty calling races at Los Alamitos


Ed Burgart will be a familiar voice to Southern California racing fans over the next two weeks.

Burgart, who has called Quarter Horse races at Los Alamitos since 1981, will call the action for the summer Thoroughbred meeting at Los Alamitos that begins a two-week run Thursday. On five nights over the next two weeks, Burgart also will call the evening races for Quarter Horses and lower-level Thoroughbreds at Los Alamitos.

It is a scenario familiar to Burgart, 62. In the autumn of both 1994 and 1995, Burgart pulled doubleheader duty during the day at Hollywood Park and in the evenings at Los Alamitos when Trevor Denman was vacationing from his position as the Hollywood Park announcer in those years.

“I did doubleheaders on Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays,” Burgart said Thursday. “I remember the last day, I called 10 races at Hollywood and 15 races at Los Alamitos. That’s when we ran the Champion of Champions on closing night [of the Quarter Horse meeting]. This will be easier now, but I’m 20 years older.”

In the coming weeks, Burgart will not have to worry about the 30-mile commute between the two tracks.

Los Alamitos gained Thoroughbred racing dates in July and December this year after Hollywood Park closed for development at the end of last year. In addition, the track will have a September meeting, taking over dates previously held by the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona.

Last fall, when Los Alamitos was finalizing plans for the July and December meetings, track owner Ed Allred asked Burgart if he would like to call both programs.

“Allred said to me, ‘You are the voice of Los Alamitos,’ ” Burgart recalled. “ ‘You can do it if it’s not too much for you.’ ”

Burgart will call doubleheaders July 5-6 and July 11-13. Los Alamitos is not conducting a night program July 4.

For Burgart, describing Thoroughbred action will not be a difficult transition. He calls Thoroughbred races at 4 1/2 furlongs regularly on Fridays through Sundays at Los Alamitos. He does admit that the longer Thoroughbred races contested during the day over the next few weeks at Los Alamitos are a change from the night assignment.

“I change my approach for a couple of reasons,” he said. “You have to slow down your tempo from a Quarter Horse race that lasts 17 to 22 seconds. You don’t want to call a mile-and-a-sixteenth race the same way you call a 350-yard race. I don’t think the voice will last.”

Burgart said he learned the difference the hard way. Back in the 1990s, a friend called him in the Hollywood Park announcer’s booth worried about Burgart’s cadence after he heard him call a race.

“He said, ‘Listen to your call. You’re ahead of the horses.’ I listened.”

Even though Burgart has been a fixture in the announcer’s booth at Los Alamitos for more than three decades, the upcoming Thoroughbred meeting will be different. Instead of calling on the five-furlong track used for evening meetings, the daytime races will be run on the larger one-mile oval constructed last winter.

“It will be different, going from a five-eighths-mile track to a mile,” he said. “The poles will be different. I think one thing I’ve got going for me is no one has called a Thoroughbred race on this track.”