“Native Dancer looks beaten to me!” Listening to the Kentucky Derby, 1953

Jan 19th 2013 11:30 am |

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Last week I came across a review of the 1935 radio broadcast of the Kentucky Derby in the pages of the Turf and Sport Digest. This got me thinking about where the early recordings of the Derby (first broadcast in 1925) might be archived or if they still existed anywhere. A few Google searches later I hit pay dirt and spent the rest of the night listening to decades of archived recordings of America’s greatest race.

John Quincy, a longtime “radio guy” who currently works at a Charleston radio station, has created an incredible tribute website to Louisville and Lexington radio that includes, among a huge audio archive, broadcasts of nearly every Kentucky Derby call from 1936 to 2005. Click here to check it out

Among my favorites is the 1953 Derby call by the legendary Bryan Field.*  From what I can tell, Field’s race call was heard by the television audience and might have also been broadcast over CBS radio affiliates. The 1953 Derby was just the second edition ever televised.

Here is how thousands of race fans experienced the greatest upset in Kentucky Derby history and one of the biggest disappointments in the long racing life of A.G. Vanderbilt:

Listen to the Kentucky Derby, 1953
If the audio doesn’t play in your browser, visit the source


* The source site misidentifies the announcer as Fred Caposella. The hint of a fake English accent and the lack of a New York accent is what makes me almost certain that this is Bryan Field and not Caposella.  According to Wikipedia, Bryan Field was the CBS announcer in 1952 although a bio at the New York Historical Society claims Caposella started doing Derby broadcasts in 1950.  It’s possible that Caposella did radio and Field did TV in 1952 but more research is needed to verify this.

I encourage you to take a look at Mr. Quincy’s online archive of Derby broadcasts. It is great fun! More to come on this subject in the coming weeks.

Read more about race caller Fred Caposella in an excellent post from Brooklyn Backstretch

Here is the brief bio of Caposella from the New York Historical Society

The 1953 Derby was voted the biggest upset in the race’s history by the Bloodhorse staff in 2007

A newsreel about the 1953 Kentucky Derby is available on YouTube

Thanks for Reading and Good Luck!

Filed in thoroughbred racing history

One Response to ““Native Dancer looks beaten to me!” Listening to the Kentucky Derby, 1953”

  1. Owen Klein says:

    You’re right, this is Field.