Photo: Eclipse Sportswire
Keeneland officials have announced that popular handicapper and racing analyst Mike Battaglia will step down from his on-air race-day duties at Keeneland with Saturday’s close of the Fall Meet. Battaglia will continue to set the track’s morning-line odds and provide expert picks for Keeneland.com.
“On behalf of Keeneland and our fans, we thank Mike for his tireless promotion of racing, particularly Kentucky racing, and for sharing his handicapping wisdom with legions of fans through the years,” Keeneland Vice President of Racing and Sales Bob Elliston said. “Mike is a great ambassador for Keeneland and for our sport and, most importantly, he makes the race day fun for everyone. He will always be a very special part of the Keeneland family.”
Battaglia, 67, began as the morning-line oddsmaker at Keeneland in 1974. During his 43-year tenure, he became the face of Keeneland via a multitude of roles, notably as track announcer for Keeneland’s in-house simulcast wagering show; as host of “Today at Keeneland,” the race-day replay show; and as on-air talent conducting post-race interviews with stakes-winning connections.
Best known to Keeneland fans as the track’s longtime handicapper, Battaglia first shared his insight and analysis on the feature race of the day in partnership with prominent broadcasters Tom Hammond and Cawood Ledford. After a number of years as a solo handicapper, he teamed with Katie Gensler in the spring of 2013 to offer live Paddock commentary and selections for each race on the day’s card.
“Stepping down was a tough decision but I think it was the right one,” Battaliga said. “It’s not like I am leaving. I will still be making the morning line and I plan to attend the races quite often. It just frees me up to enjoy hanging in the Press Box or having lunch with friends. I am truly blessed and grateful to be a part of the Keeneland family and hope to continue that relationship for many years.”
In his various roles as track announcer, oddsmaker and television broadcaster, Battaglia is a recognizable figure to race fans across the country. He served as track announcer for 43 years at Turfway Park, where he continues as associate vice president, and called 19 Kentucky Derbys as longtime track announcer for Churchill Downs. From 1993 to 2014, Battaglia was a reporter and racing analyst for NBC Sports’ coverage of the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
In recognition of his career accomplishments, Battaglia was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in June.
Source: Keenealnd Association