(Auburn, WA) Heading into year 27 at Emerald Downs a new voice will be booming over the P-A system keeping track of the horses as they make their way around the Auburn oval. Bill Downes will become the 4th full-time track announcer when the gates for race 1 of the 2022 season fly open on Sunday, May 15.
Downes has recently been calling the races at Indiana Grand for the past 8 years and prior to that the Chicago native has had stints at Ellis Park, Beulah Park, Presque Isle Downs, and River Downs.
Downes takes over for Tom Harris who stepped aside to spend time with his family. Harris lives in Spokane and would commute to Auburn to call the races on a weekly basis.
Downes says his strength is his accuracy in calling races. His style can be described as controlled enthusiasm as he makes very clear and concise calls with a strong finish as they approach the finish line. Downes talked with Emerald Downs Media Director Vince Bruun and said, “I’m thrilled to come to Emerald Downs,” Downes said. “Emerald is a track I’ve always held in high esteem. I was there once for a two-day handicapping tournament, and the thing I noticed was an excellent on-track experience. Everyone was having a good time.”
Robert Geller was the lone voice of Emerald Downs race calling from the track’s opening day on June 20, 1996 until mid-June of the 2015 season. Geller stepped down to take the prestigious job at Woodbine Race Track in Toronto. Matt Dinerman then took over for 2 and half seasons but exited after the 2017 season to return the Bay area where he is the voice of Golden Gate Fields.
Harris took over for Dinerman and after a long career with stops at many track including Sam Houston, Retama, Zia Park, Portland Meadows along with Playfair and Yakima Meadows in Washington State.
Bruun and Publicity Director Joe Withee will likely continue to serve as the back-up announcers at Emerald.
Below is Downes’ call of the 2020 Indiana Derby where fans who may not have heard Downes can get a taste of what to expect at Emerald Downs this season.
New Emerald Announcer Bill Downes calling the 2020 Indiana Derby