Retired Maryland Racing Announcer Dick Woolley Dies
Racing announcer Dick Woolley, who called the Preakness Stakes (G1) wins of the three Triple Crown winners of the 1970s, died July 1 in Baltimore County. He was 89.
Besides calling races, Woolley earned a media Eclipse Award for radio coverage in 1979 with his weekly program, Showcase of Racing.
In 2012 Woolley told Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred magazine that his favorite Preakness memory was Affirmed's win in 1978.
"One week before the running of that year's Preakness, I received the great news that ABC Television had chosen me to call the Preakness for a national audience, on the telecast with Howard Cosell and Jim McKay," Woolley told the magazine. "As part of what many consider the greatest Triple Crown series in history, that entire race raised the adrenaline level probably as high as I ever experienced in my life.
"From the sixteenth pole to the wire were the most exhilarating seconds of my professional racing career—as Alydar steadily closed in on Affirmed. And at the wire, Affirmed prevailed and won by a neck. To my great delight, as the horses came to the finish line, I nailed the finish of the race."
According to a Baltimore Sun obituary, Woolley, who was born Jan. 27, 1930 in West Hartford, Conn., attended his first horse race at Bowie in 1948. While stationed in Norfolk, Va. during a 12-year career in the Navy that would include service during the Korean War, Woolley would find a mentor in legendary turf writer Walter Haight, who allowed Woolley to accompany him in the pressbox.
The paper reports that Woolley's first permanent job in racing was as race caller at Shenandoah Downs in West Virginia through the 1960s before taking over the same role for Maryland Jockey Club in 1971 when Haight's son Raymond, who had called the races in Maryland, left for a job in New Jersey. In the winter, Woolley would call races at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans. He retired in 1989.
Woolley is survived by his wife Patricia Woolley; children, Kathleen Woolley, Brian Woolley, Marianne Meagher, and Patrick Meagher; and three grandchildren.