Day At The Track

Legendary race-caller Frank Salive at Batavia

12:38 AM 24 Sep 2019 NZST
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Frank Salive, harness racing
Frank Salive
Skip Smith photo

Batavia, NY --- One of the most recognizable voices in the sport of harness racing in North America is that of Frank Salive. With decades of race calls to his credit and a wide and varied career resume besides, Salive will bring his "dulcet tones" to the oldest lighted harness track in North America on Friday (Sept. 27) when he makes Batavia Downs the 75th track that he has plied his trade at.

"Over the years in my travels, Wally Hennessy and Bud Gilmour told me a lot of great things about racing in Western New York and I'm ecstatic to be invited to get involved with this great time of harness racing here," said Salive. "After my time at Pompano ended I tried early retirement from 2012-2014 but I could not shake the racing bug. Now I'm in my fourth season at nearby Fort Erie Race Track and still fill in at great harness tracks like Batavia when the need arises. I'm very excited to be coming down."

A native of Leamington, Ontario, Salive's first exposure to harness racing was at Windsor Raceway in 1972 at the age of 17 when he saw Albatross compete there. But his career path did not take him directly to the announcers booth.

Salive first played junior hockey with the Peterborough Petes as their starting goaltender under the direction of Hall of Fame coach Roger Neilson. He played there for three years, culminating with an appearance in the first World Junior Hockey Tournament in 1974 when the Petes beat Team Russia in Leningrad.

As a result of his outstanding play Salive was named the top goaltender in the series and most valuable player of the tournament. He was later drafted in the 10th round by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1975 amateur draft.

Salive never played for the Penguins, instead opting for a career in broadcasting. He worked in radio and television in Windsor and covered the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal for CTV in Canada. Although his broadcast resume grew, his heart was calling him back to the track and in 1977 he took his first professional job calling races at Sudbury Downs.

He later assumed that same role at Windsor and in 1991 moved to the number one job in Canada, covering all the harness action at Woodbine and Mohawk Raceway. There he called thousands of races from 1991 until 2005 including such prestigious events as the North American Cup.

Most recently he has worked at Western Fair, Pompano Park and Fort Erie Race Track, where he currently is the full time Thoroughbred announcer since 2016.

Salive called his 150,000th horse race at Kawartha Downs in 2017 and after that race, thanked everyone in harness racing who over the years worked so hard to make the races happen so that he had the privilege of calling them.

Aside from his extensive body of work in hockey and racing, Salive is also a movie star of sorts, having had a role in three notable films. In 2005 Salive had a part in the movie "A History Of Violence" starring Viggo Mortenson, Maria Bello, Ed Harris and WIllam Hurt. Then is 2006 he was in "Lucky Number Slevin" with Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman and Danny Aiello and in 2009 he had another part in "Life Of Charlie".

Salive will also be on hand at Batavia Downs on Friday (Oct. 4) to take on the calling duties one more time.

Post time for both nights is 6 p.m.

By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs
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