07/01/2010 11:00PM

Fort Erie announcer Wells retires after 33 years


FORT ERIE, Ontario - Daryl Wells, Fort Erie's longtime track announcer and director of communications and off-track operations, has retired from his post effective June 30.

Wells, 50, had been with Fort Erie since 1976, beginning as the announcer for Quarter Horse racing under the auspices of the Ontario Jockey Club.

"My dad, who announced at Woodbine, heard of the opening for an announcer at the Fort and suggested I give it a try," said Wells, who was 17 at the time. "I remember sitting on the roof at the Woodbine Racetrack practicing the call over a number of days. It certainly paid off.

"It has been 33 years of fun, and what I will miss most are the crowds and the excitement that they can bring to the races."

Asked about his favorite call, Wells picked the 1988 Prince of Wales battle between Regal Intention, the Queen's Plate winner, and Regal Classic, the other half of the entry from Sam-Son Farm.

"They were 10 lengths the better of the rest and went head and head the whole stretch before Regal Classic prevailed in a tight photo," said Wells, who has the win picture on the wall of his office.

Wells has no immediate plans but looks to the future with optimism. As for his rationale for leaving the sport and work he so loved, Wells said simply, "It was time to go."

Quaranta training for Firestone

Trainer Ralph Quaranta has three Firestone Farm runners in his barn and is looking forward to their upcoming races.

"Julie Firestone and Hugh Graham run an excellent Thoroughbred operation both here and in Florida," Quaranta, 58, said, "and I am very pleased to be a part of their team."

The youngest of the trio is Due the Math, a 2-year-old will be ready for his first work in a couple of weeks.

"He certainly looks the part," said Quaranta.

City Splash, an unraced 3-year-old filly, is set to go in a maiden special weight and has been working very well.

"She is by City Zip and I am looking forward to that first start with enthusiasm," said Quaranta.

"I also have an older runner, Backgammon, who has banked over $200,000. We are looking to run him in the Puss n Boots in September. He loves the turf."

Quaranta is high on another 2-year-old colt in his barn named Afanofdanger.

"He is by Forest Danger, a son of Forestry, out of a Lear Fan mare," said Quaranta. "This colt shows great potential, and if all goes well I would not be surprised to see him winning The Fan's Cup for colts and geldings come October."

* The Fort Erie Live Racing Consortium has requested a post time change on Tuesdays from the Ontario Racing Commission. If accepted, post times on Tuesdays will move from 1:30 to 4 p.m. The Consortium references the success of other tracks that have moved to a later post time as one of a number of reasons for the change.