Longtime announcer Battaglia leaving booth for front office

FLORENCE, Ky. (AP) Longtime Churchill Downs and Turfway Park track announcer Mike Battaglia is stepping away from the booth and moving into a role as vice president at Turfway in Florence, Kentucky.

Turfway said Friday in a news release that the move is effective March 12. After a 44-year career of calling races, Battaglia will serve as the track's ambassador, teaching the art of handicapping and helping promote the track.

The day of his move coincides with the John Battaglia Memorial Stakes, a race that honors Battaglia's father, Turfway's general manager in the 1970s.

Battaglia says: ''Turfway Park has been a constant in my life since I was 16 years old. ... My son Bret is now the third generation of Battaglias to work at Turfway, so now seems like a good time to make this transition.''

Battaglia called races at Churchill Downs from 1977-96. He also has set the morning line at the track, including the line for the Kentucky Derby, since 1974.

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