She can overwhelm the cerebral senses with a volley of facts and details that roll off her tongue with the authority and understanding of someone who knows her stuff inside and out.
Right or wrong on a given horse is not the issue. She can dissect what a thoroughbred has done and is apt to do with the precision of a surgeon and his scalpel.
She is Angela Hermann, the voice of Canterbury Park’s paddock and a disseminator of insight and detail on the horses that occupy the barns of Shakopee.
Now completing her third season in the paddock since the departure of Kevin Gorg. Ms. Hermann is about to break ground in the thoroughbred world on a national front.
Ms. Hermann, a native of Burnsville, will become the first woman in U.S. thoroughbred history to act as a race caller for an entire card when she takes over for Paul Allen on Saturday.
The idea came about gradually, building on the fact that Ms. Hermann called several races, 10 or more, one at time, during the course of the 2013 meet as preparation for the approaching assignment.
She called a three-horse race last winter at Hawthorne Race Course in suburban Chicago, so the experience was not brand new to her this summer, although the challenge was certainly greater, calling races with larger fields than the one in Cicero, Ill., and on the home front to boot.
“It wasn’t the most exciting race (to call in Cicero),” said Ms. Hermann. “They only changed order maybe twice in the entire race.”
That will not be the case for Saturday’s eight-race card which will involve the names of as many as 60 or more horses to memorize.
“I can do it. That doesn’t worry me,” said Ms. Hermann.
It doesn’t worry her colleagues, either.
Allen, who is the voice of the Minnesota Vikings, is missing an all-time high of eight racing days this year due to the extension of the racing season and his duties at the Vikings’ mike. After conferring with track president/CEO Randy Sampson, and after Hermann’s trials at the microphone were given stamps of approval, the decision was made to put Canterbury Park and Ms. Hermann into racing’s history books.
“She’s ready and she’ll do a terrific job,” said Allen.
Does Ms. Hermann view this as a step forward for women?
“Of course it is important,” she said. “Women in the sport can get offended when I say that we need more women in our sport. I can only imagine what it might be like if we had an equal number of women to men.”
Racing is said to have made much progress in gender equality in the last 30 years or so, but it still lags behind in many areas.
“As much progress as there has been, there are still way too many men who will not put a female jockey aboard their horses. The more of us in this sport the better chance we have of leveling the playing field.”
So, the difference between analyzing a race in the paddock and calling a race from the pressbox?
“You have to have all your ducks in a row to get everything exactly right,” she said. “If there’s a moment that you freeze up there is nothing and there is no second chance at it.”
Nonetheless, Ms. Hermann says her handicapping experience, her experience in what to expect from a certain horse, will help the call as a race progresses. “If a horse isn’t supposed to be on the lead but is, as a handicapper you know that,” she said. “If a horse is behaving or running differently than he has done in the past, it is valuable to know that ahead of time.”
Ms. Hermann hopes that Saturday is one of the biggest days of her career. She will measure it primarily by this standard:
“If one little girl, because she was hesitant, is inspired to get into the industry because of this, then I’ve done my job.”
If you’ve ever watched some of the small faces that circle the paddock area before a race, the job is probably already done.
Had you been at Canterbury Thursday night. Had you put $2 on Bandini’s Star, you would have invested your money in a 55-1 winner, ridden by Jordan Olesiak and the first winner of the meet for trainer Mike Bolinger.
Had you been at Canterbury, and had you put $2 on K C’s Misfit, you would have invested in a 32-1 winner, the first winner of the meet for trainer Mike Kirby.
BECKY MCDOWELL FUNDRAISER
Trainer/horsewoman Becky McDowell was injured recently doing the job she loves so much. Thus, her colleagues on the backside have joined together and will stage a fundraiser to help her through the expense of recovery.
Food, music and an auction will be held in the track kitchen after the last race on Saturday, around 5:30 p.m.
This blog was written by Canterbury Staff Writer Jim Wells. Wells was a longtime sportswriter at the Pioneer Press and is a member of the Canterbury Park Hall of Fame.