Gary Weir's Racing Show 'Oaklawn Park Recap' Goes National

by Jim Harris  on Monday, Mar. 15, 2010 12:00 am  

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Gary Weir, whose television career includes a famed stretch as KATV’s Bozo the Clown, is all serious about horse racing. He lives it. He breathes it. He wouldn’t miss a day at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs even if he didn’t compile a racing highlights show every day.

Weir’s “Oaklawn Park Recap” runs nightly, even on nights when the track is “dark” with no live racing. It’s carried nationally by HRTV (Horse Racing Television) on Dish Network, Channel 720, and is seen in Central Arkansas on Comcast Cable. It’s also carried in the Little Rock area at 7 p.m. each night and 9:30 a.m. the next day on KATV-D, a digital channel owned by KATV, Channel 7.

On live meet days, he’s got plenty of footage to fill his 28 minute, 30-second show. When there is no racing, Weir taps into a library of stakes races held at Oaklawn Park over the years for “Memories of Oaklawn.”

“I have every stakes race since 1971, all of those races in chronological order,” Weir said. “I might put a show together, say, the 1995 Oaklawn Handicap with Cigar, or maybe when Demon’s Begone won the Arkansas Derby. It’s been a real joy to put those races together for a show. I was probably there to see every one of those races.”

Weir said he gets a kick out of looking back at such Oaklawn names as Chindi, a gray sprinter trained by Steve Hobby.

“Chindi was always so far down on the backside, you thought there was no way he was going to win. It was like the old horse Silky Sullivan, if you remember him, being way off the pace and coming from behind. But every race, coming down the stretch, you’d hear Terry [Wallace] say , ‘Here comes Chindi.’”

Weir is as caught up as everyone else around Oaklawn with the $5 million race arranged by Oaklawn president Charles Cella that will feature Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta, and eight other females. Weir said an advertising spot that Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods produced for Oaklawn moved him so much, he asked that it run with his highlights show.

“When you see it, chills run down your spine,” Weir said. “We already have another commercial for Oaklawn running in there, which is part of our agreement with the track. But this spot was so good, I said, ‘Give me that and I’ll run it.’ They said, ‘Will you have time?’ I told them I’d just shorten down my comments on the show to get that in there.”

Highlights aside, Weir sounds like other race fans concerning the April 9 showdown: “I can’t wait for the actual event to occur.”



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