by Ed Meyer

posted on December 6, 2009 in General Discussion | No Comments >>

The horse are going into the gate, and that only means one thing, “It is now post time!” These words have been echoed through the mic of many great race callers. I have met many, but few will measure up to a man known as the “Goof on the Roof.”

If you ever heard the call of Kevin Goemmer, you would have known it. He left you with the hair standing up on your neck. His voice, the energy, and the personality. All have left me great memories.

I was a young kid walking with my dad to the car after the last race. Then all of a sudden a booming voice called out: “If you have the 1-7-5-3 superfecta…… Please sit down………” I remember stopping dead in my tracks to hear an all-time record payout of over $64,000 to a lucky player. KG had a way that would have made the menu at White Castle sound incredible.

He began calling at Louisville Downs, a harness track which eventually began a training center for Thoroughbreds. Then he was the caller at River Downs, which had the likes of Terry Wallace, Mike Battaglia, and many others. He called harness horses at Latonia (now Turfway Park) in Florence. The big career move came for him when Phil Georgeff retired as the voice of Chicago. The big stage was calling for KG. His home was Arlington Park. Home of the Arlington Million. He stayed for years, and made his way back to Kentucky to be closer to his roots. He began working for Charlson Broadcasting. If you ever look at a screen that shows racing, and think that looks neat, you can thank these innovative folks. KG was back home, and was a fill-in caller at many tracks when needed. It was like having Babe Ruth just waiting for a call to hit a home run…He was talent personified.

I had met him on many occasions, and thought he was cocky. It was only after really getting to know him, that I was in the presence of one of the greatest guys that worked in racing. Kevin had that charisma.  I once heard that “it ain’t bragging if you can do it.” KG definitely could make it happen.

Let’s climb into the time machine, and go back to Turfway Park years ago… He made his way into the studi0, where I was sitting and waiting to give out my race selections.  I was new and scared. I loved the game and knew what to say, but felt like my head was going to pop off.  It was a visit by my friend that made it all better.  He walked in, and asked the camera guy to leave… All that I could think about was that there was ten minutes to post, and I was trying to overcome my fear of the camera. He stood right in front of the one eyed monster and said, “what’s up Hollywood? ” I started to answer with some little quip, or tried to look less nervous to one of racing’s greats. He kindly interrupted me. He said, “Relax my man… You look good… They want to hear all about who you like.  Neither one of us are going to be Brad Pitt, so kick back and enjoy the ride.. They don’t want to kiss you, they want to know who is going to win the feature.  That is why you are sitting there. So, do what you do-do well….” (one of his famous quotes).  He then allowed the man back in the room, and said, “See you after the races, Hollywood… We’ll have a beer…..”

The camera man looked at me and had just enough time to say, “3-2-1 – you’re on………” I lit up, and I never felt better in my life.  I was doing something that I loved, and I wanted to give the people the best information I could find.  Kevin had taken a nervous man,  and made him more confident. He gave him the mojo to enjoy his moment in the spotlight.  For this, I am eternally grateful……

This was Kevin……He could call races off a two-day drinking run, and make it sound like the Derby. He could turn the mic off, and turn and look at you for a moment in the booth, and ask who was winning the U.K. game…. That was KG……

He passed away some years ago… He left us way too early… You read and hear that, but this was true. He did so much for so many…..Kevin left our game wanting more from him… But, it is gone forever and the silence is deafening…..