Angela Hermann, Canterbury Park’s own, presented a new take on an old expression Saturday afternoon, a new look at the entire concept.
Ms. Hermann carried herself and Canterbury Park – married as they are in this sport of kings – over the threshold of history, one call at a time, one race at a time and one race card at a time.
For the first time in North American thoroughbred annals, a woman called an entire race card, and that woman on Saturday was Angela Hermann, better known to Canterbury fans as the voice of the paddock, the woman disseminating facts and details before each race.
Newspaper articles appeared in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press the day before the historic occasion. WCCO had a camera filming in the announcer’s booth on Saturday, and KARE 11 filmed an interview with Hermann after the first race.
Angela, meanwhile, battled nerves like a boxer before the first round as she approached the first race, but called it without a hitch, adding her own personal touch to the call.
Fans accustomed to hearing her rat-a-tat-tat delivery in the paddock heard instead the reserved, articulate delivery of a woman in control at the mike, race after race.
As always, Ms Hermann was her own harshest critic. “I don’t want to hear that replay,” she said after race two. It’s like torture.”
Hermann herself finds a flaw in anything she does, an attribute undoubtedly part of her personal drive toward perfection.
Yes, of course, there were first time errors and individuals opposed to female announcers. An intoxicated individual called the pressbox complaining that a woman was announcing the races, hardly a scoop on this particular afternoon.
Not only did Ms Hermann handle the microphone in the absence of Paul Allen, she managed to handle all but two of the pre-race paddock analyses, her usual role.
There were pranks, to be sure.
TV production manager Jon Mikkelson closed the door to the announcer’s booth after the seventh race. Thus, when Ms. Hermann returned from the paddock, she was deceived, momentarily, into thinking the door had been closed and locked.
There were incidents during races that caught Ms. Hermann a bit behind. She had just proclaimed Tomorrows Moon the likely winner under Lori Keith in race three when three others inside the 16th pole caught fire and Tomorrows Moon, who finished fourth.
Then again, even the veteran Paul Allen has been caught in similar straits within the last week. The difference emerged in his ability to correct himself just yards from the wire, experience showing itself on those occasions. A small point to be sure.
A poll found several of the riders liked Hermann’s calls, as did several trainers. Some trainers did not. Once again, you will find diversity of opinion when Allen is at the mike.
Some people think Shakespeare was the greatest. Others only shake their heads at his mention.
Some people think Bob Dylan’s the best rock and roll artist Minnesota has produced. Others wouldn’t listen to him if he appeared on their front lawns.
Yet, nine out of 10 people know who Dylan is, and 99 out 100 know that Shakespeare wrote plays.
Shakespeare has an esteemed place in English Literature. Dylan has a special niche in rock and roll.
And Angela Hermann has her place in thoroughbred racing history.
Rider Denny Velazquez suffered an apparent broken shoulder, injured a knee and banged up his head during a spill in the fourth race. His horse, Executive Action, broke down during the race, unseating his rider.
Juan Rivera also took off remaining mounts after hurting a shoulder during a race, but said it was only sore and not seriously injured.
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.