Hope you’ve gotten to see Zenyatta’s stunning win at the Breeder’s Cup yesterday. Considering all the circumstances before and during the race, the filly’s victory was beyond astonishing. Certainly goes down as one of the greatest performances ever.
(Inset: Santa Anita track announcer Trevor Denman - Photo Credit)
But I’m not so sure track announcer Trevor Denman shouldn’t be credited with a good portion of what will be Zenyatta’s everlasting legend. If you think his presentation of the race doesn’t significantly add to the stature of the horse’s performance, you’re not paying attention.
As a former longtime professional sports announcer, I was in awe of how Denman controlled audience emotion as a wily southpaw pitcher would set up hair-trigger hitter.
From the first burst from the gate, Denman intoned Zenyatta’s impossible task. He folded in burgeoning concern for her field position throughout, noting that it’d take a kryptonite-free spree to overcome her adverse circumstance.
“Zenyatta is dead last, Zenyatta is dead last early … Zenyatta has a lot a lot of ground to make up. … Zenyatta, if she wins this she will be a superhorse.”
By the time Denman’s customary emotion explosion kicked in upon Zenyatta’s history-making move, viewers had been conditioned with a context that will forever elevate the race’s aftermath.
“This! Is! Un! Be! Lievable Zenyatta! What a performance! One we will never forget! Looked impossible. But it is Zenyatta still unbeaten under Mike Smith. What a dramatic performance! One of the most sensational ever! Zenyatta wins the Breeders’ Cup Classic. “
The font face doesn’t do justice to Denman’s 120-second, goosebumped masterpiece, so here’s the video:
As sports has become more of a calculating commercial enterprise than an emotionally reactive endeavor, impact of announcers on audiences has largely been lost. But not yesterday.