By Rebecca Roush
Darrin Hall is new to Canterbury Park as the starter this season, but is certainly not new to the horse racing industry. His job here is dispatching horses from the starting gate in an orderly fashion. After years of watching his father train horses, he began to ride and went on to train quarter horses for a number of owners.
At the end of Canterbury’s 2017 race meet, Hall was offered a position as the track’s lead starter by Director of Racing Operations Andrew Offerman. “Darrin came highly recommended to me from numerous trainers and jockeys at Turf Paradise,” Offerman said. “He has done a great job of bringing in a gate crew who enjoy their jobs and do the best they can for every horse in every race,” he added.
For a horse race to run smoothly, there are a lot of things that need to go right. To help make sure that all of the horses have the best opportunity to start a race, Hall and his gate crew are there to lead the horses in and make sure everyone looks ready before opening the starting gates.
Behind the scenes, on race day mornings, Hall stays busy “schooling” the horses and making sure they are all able to start from the gate confidently. If by chance one horse has an issue with the gate, Hall and his team first try to calm the horse and make it comfortable, but if it still will not go in he works with the racing officials to determine if it is fit to run that day.
While Hall was understandably busy for an interview one race day, saying he needed to get back to “his gate,” his wife Melanie stepped in to answer some questions. “Darrin can be really shy sometimes, but he has a heart of gold and would help anyone out if they needed it,” she commented. She was also quick to mention that Hall “really knows the ins and outs of this business.”
Hall’s favorite part about his job happens to be the horses. “I have a real passion for the animals and the sport,” he said.
Though this is Hall’s first year at the track, it is clear that he has already made a positive impact. In July, Hall was declared Canterbury Park’s Employee of the Month, where he was recognized for his hard work. “I really like it here and I can’t wait to see what we can do next year,” Hall said.
When the Canterbury race meet ends, Hall will return to his home in Phoenix with plans of returning to Minnesota next spring.