Photography by Scarlett Pinkey
Before he was 10, renowned track announcer Frank Mirahmadi was already hooked on the Sport of Kings. “That’s all I wanted to do on the weekends,” says Mirahmadi. “I always hoped that my mom or dad would take me to the track.”
In the last five years, Mirahmadi has had the kind of career boom that most professional track announcers dream of. In 2018, he became the official announcer at Santa Anita Park in California, and this summer he joined NYRA full-time to call races at Saratoga Race Course, taking over for retiring announcer John Imbriale.
“I’ve been a Saratoga fan for as long as I’ve been a racing fan,” says Mirahmadi, who previously called at the track as a backup. “I remember walking into Saratoga for the first time in 1997, and the feeling was so clear that it was a special place well before I could even see the racetrack. You could just feel the history and tradition.”
Raised in Beverly Hills, Mirahmadi had access to a west coast mecca of horseracing, growing up a short drive from Hollywood Park and Santa Anita and just two hours from Del Mar. It was, however, more than just his love of the sport that led to the California native’s incredible success in the booth. Mirahmadi is also a master of celebrity impressions. “The first impersonation I remember was of Tom Jones singing ‘Delilah’ because my mom kept listening to that song,” says Mirahmadi, who would perform his impressions around the family dinner table.
That knack for imitating others led a young Mirahmadi to impersonate the distinct voices of southern California race callers. One day in 1992, on a total “instinct move,” he called for the president of Hollywood Park and said he could imitate the track’s announcer who was on vacation. So Mirahmadi sent a cassette calling a fictitious sprint race.“When I called to follow up, the lady who answered in the executive office kinda giggled and I could tell that they liked the tape,” Mirahmadi says. “The track president said, ‘Frank, I gotta hand it to you. I like your impersonations.’”
That very year, on Christmas Eve, Mirahmadi made his announcing debut, calling two closing races at Hollywood Park. He returned in 1994 to call four races, and after that got written up in the Los Angeles Times. That was the start of a long career or “quest,” in Mirahmadi’s words, calling tens of thousands of races at 20-plus courses across the country and still busting out the occasional celebrity impersonation during a meet.
For Mirahmadi, however, Saratoga remains the “pinnacle of the sport.” “To be at Santa Anita and Saratoga combined is a beautiful thing, but Saratoga is definitely where the racing world is focused during the summertime,” Mirahmadi says. “I’ve loved the sport my entire life. To be able to now work in it and have the privilege to describe the action of these great Thoroughbreds, it’s a dream come true.”