Marshall Cassidy, longtime horse racing caller, dies at 75

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Marshall Cassidy, who served as the New York Racing Association’s lead race caller throughout the 1980s, has died. He was 75.

Cassidy died in his sleep Sunday at his home in Saratoga Springs, New York, according to longtime friend Glen Mathes, who spoke to Cassidy’s wife, Maryellen.

Cassidy served as backup announcer during much of the 1970s to Dave Johnson and Chic Anderson. He took over after Anderson’s death in 1979.

He was the sport’s most prominent announcer in the 1980s. Besides working at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga, Cassidy called races on television for ABC, CBS, NBC and ESPN. He was succeeded at NYRA by Tom Durkin in 1990.

In 1989, Cassidy was on the mic for the Belmont Stakes when Easy Goer upset Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Sunday Silence to spoil his Triple Crown bid.

Coming to the finish, Cassidy roared, “It’s New York’s Eeeeeasy Goer in front.”

He was known for his accuracy, precise diction and upbeat delivery, especially when calling a close race.

“Marshall had a voice that belonged in the Hall of Fame. He had a resonant baritone and his timbre was perfect,” said Durkin, who retired in 2014. “The most important thing for a racetrack announcer to be is accurate, and for that, Marshall was peerless.”

Cassidy returned to the booth for one day on Sept. 1, 2008, to call a race at Saratoga.

He also worked as a patrol and placing judge in New York. He came from a family of racing officials in the state.

His grandfather, Marshall Cassidy, was a race starter and a steward, and an executive director of The Jockey Club. Cassidy’s great-grandfather, Marshall “Mars” Cassidy, worked as a race starter. Grand-uncle George Cassidy was also a race starter for nearly 50 years.

Besides his wife, Cassidy is survived by daughters Christina and Cynthia, and son Marshall III.

369 horses nominated to compete in Triple Crown series

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A total of 369 3-year-olds were made eligible to compete in this year’s Triple Crown series during the early nomination period.

Each of the horses was nominated through a $600 payment to compete in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont stakes. The Triple Crown opens May 6 with the Derby.

The number of nominated horses increased by 57 from last year’s total of 312. They include a record 37 horses based in Japan.

Among the notable horses is Forte, last year’s 2-year-old champion trained by Todd Pletcher.

Also among the predominantly male horses nominated was a filly named Hoosier Philly.

Brad Cox led all trainers with 38 horses nominated to the series. Pletcher was second with 36 horses, followed by Steve Asmussen and Ken McPeek with 13 each. Chad Brown and Hideyuki Mori had 12 each.

Others nominated include Arabian Knight, Cave Rock and Newgate, all trained by Bob Baffert. He is currently banned by Churchill Downs Inc. through this year’s Derby, although Baffert is challenging his two-year punishment in federal court.

For the Derby, horses under the care of any suspended trainer may be transferred to another trainer and become eligible to earn Derby qualifying points as long as the transfer is done by Feb. 28.

Last year, Baffert transferred two horses to another trainer and both ran in the Derby, although neither was highly placed.

Horses that were not nominated to the Triple Crown series by the early deadline of Jan. 28 can make a late payment of $6,000 through March 27 to become eligible.

Newgate wins Robert B. Lewis Stakes; Baffert runs 1-2-3-4

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Newgate won the $200,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes by a neck, with Bob Baffert as the trainer of all four horses in the Kentucky Derby prep race at Santa Anita.

Ridden by Frankie Dettori, Newgate ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.11 and paid $4 and $2.60 as the even-money favorite. There was no show wagering because of the field size.

Hard to Figure returned $5.20 at 12-1 odds. Worcester was another 1 3/4 lengths back in third. Arabian Lion was fourth.

“So much improvement in all these horses,” Baffert said. “I was actually nervous before the race, worried that something weird might happen, but I can relax now.”

The Lewis was a Kentucky Derby prep race, but no points were awarded because Baffert has been banned for two years by Churchill Downs Inc. The Hall of Fame trainer was in Louisville to testify in federal court as he seeks a temporary injunction to end the suspension, which runs through the end of the upcoming spring meet. It was meted out following a failed drug test by Medina Spirit after the colt finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

Newgate earned his first graded stakes victory. The colt was second, beaten by a neck in the Sham Stakes last month in his previous start.

“Frankie Dettori has been teaching him how to just sit back, relax and come with a punch and that’s what he did today,” Baffert said.

The victory, worth $120,000, increased Newgate’s career earnings to $241,975, with two wins in six starts.