Ross Morton, who called thoroughbred races in Farmington for the past 46 years, died Wednesday.
A familiar voice at the Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack won’t be heard this spring.
Fairport resident Ross Morton, 74, known to many as the voice of the track, died Wednesday near his winter home in Hollywood, Fla.
Mr. Morton had been the announcer for thoroughbred races since the track opened in 1962. According to a press release from Finger Lakes Gaming and Racetrack, Morton called more than 60,000 thoroughbred races in that familiar deep voice. For 23 winter seasons early in his career, Morton also announced at Gulfstream Park in Florida. In addition, he was the host of “The Winner’s Circle,” a daily recap of racing that ran on local television.
Steve Martin, senior director of marketing and gaming at the Farmington track, said track officials spoke yesterday about starting a search for a new announcer. It won’t be easy, he said.
“You can’t replace that many years of knowledge within a facility,” he said. “Track announcers are certainly not people you find just anywhere.”
In an April 2006 interview with the Messenger, Mr. Morton said he interviewed every big-name jockey in the country. Martin said last year’s race with Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide was a career highlight for Morton.
“It was such a big moment for the track and kind of a step back in time to see that many people in the stands,” he said. “I remember how excited he was for that day.”
Mr. Morton’s career included work for ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” and ESPN. Before he started working in Farmington, he was a disc jockey in Syracuse, going by the name “Mad Man Morton.”
Mr. Morton missed a month of work in the summer of 2005 for coronary bypass surgery, which was the first extended break of his career. He was a tennis player and walked and swam to stay fit.
“Maybe I can make it an even 50 years,” he said in the 2006 interview. “As long as my voice is strong and I continue to call the right horses.”
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