Day At The Track

Roger Huston - 45 Little Brown Jugs straight

07:06 AM 09 Oct 2011 NZDT
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Roger Huston and daughter Nevele Ross Roger Huston with two more adoring fans Roger Huston with his wife Barb Roger Huston (right) with Tim O'Connor Roger Huston with Dan Telle Roger Huston Roger Huston with his family Roger Huston - The Voice Roger Huston - harness racing legend!
Roger Huston and daughter Nevele Ross
Roger Huston with two more adoring fans
Roger Huston with his wife Barb - and daughter Nevele
Roger Huston (right) with Tim O'Connor - Ken Warkenten, and Michelle Lucas Files
Roger Huston with Dan Telle - His father Ed owns Big Bad John
Roger Huston - And his daughter Nevele
Roger Huston with his family - Son in law Dustin Ross, daughters Cami Sue & Nevele & Barb
Roger Huston - The Voice - Salutes a few fans from his commentary box
Roger Huston - harness racing legend!
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It comes as no surprise whatsoever that Ohio harness racing legend, Roger Huston has been nicknamed 'The Voice'. The 69-year-old recently called his 45th consecutive Little Brown Jug and astonishingly is now zeroing in on his is 159,000th race call since first picking up the microphone back in the mid-1950s.

“I have no intentions of hanging up the microphone. My Uncle Don was still race-calling when he was 83. If I have my way I’ll be still doing it when I’m that age and older,” Canonsburg (Pa) based Huston told Harnesslink.

His Uncle Don was Huston’s mentor and the man who fueled his announcing career.

“My Uncle got a job announcing at Lebanon Raceway in 1953. He also called at county fairs in Ohio and Pennsylvania. I started going to the races with him when I was just 12. I missed a lot of school events including my prom because of my love of him and the races,” Huston said.

"I became hooked very early on in life," he added.

After a while race-calling also became ‘second nature’ for Xenia born and educated Huston, and it was while he was still at High School he got to call his first race.

“I still don’t know if it was my love of the horses or the PA system back then that got me excited about announcing. All I know is that I loved it and I think people saw and felt that in me.

“My first gig was calling at the Wilmington matinee meeting and in 1960 at the age of 18 I found myself calling and five county fairs throughout Ohio in the summer,” Huston said.

At the time Huston had no idea he would one day become one of the best harness racing announcers the United States has ever produced, so he decided to attend College to study to be a teacher.

“It’s funny I graduated with a teaching degree and all the time was calling races throughout Ohio. In fact the day I graduated I got a call from the Red Mile at Lexington to see if I would come and call there.

“I’ve never looked back and ironically have never once used my teaching degree,” Huston said.

That job led to more work at Pompano Park. He was still calling at fairs throughout Ohio in the summer and then in 1967 Huston’s career really took off starting with his first Little Brown Jug.

He continued with that work schedule until 1975 when he was asked to come and call at The Meadows track just south of Pittsburgh.

“I took that job and gave Pompano away in 1976 but still kept the calling work in Ohio, including the Little Brown Jug. I have been employed by the same tracks since.

“I don’t think there are any other announcers in the world who could say that they have solely made a living from calling. A lot of them have a second job while they are announcing – but not me.

“The only other jobs I’ve had outside announcing have been a paper route, a grocery assistant and a radio station announcer when I was young.”

Huston has had some memorable calls over the years and even Big Bad John’s Little Brown Jug victory on September 22 was unique in its own little way.

“I’m friends with the owners Ed Telle and Ron Potter and they love me calling their horse home because I’m nine for nine now. I’ve called him nine times and he’s won all nine,” Huston said.

There are two other races that Huston said would always remain etched in his memory.

“The first was when the great late Falcon Seelster set a world record 1:51 for a 3-year-old at Delaware. Harness racing people have often been renowned for sitting on their hands a race and don’t get excited like the thoroughbred people do - and I remember saying at the three quarter pole during that race:

“’People if you are ever going to stand on your feet well it had better be now because we are witnessing something special.’ A lot of people have remembered that line and have told me it was the greatest race I ever called. It was the emotion of the moment that brought that line out – I never prepared it.”

Huston also has vivid memories of the first ever Breeders crown race in 1984 when Dragons Lair beat Nihilator in a hometown upset - in world record time of 1:51.3.

But ‘The Voice’ said that every time he stepped into the commentary box he regarded each and every race as the Little Brown Jug.

“I like to get excited and enthusiastic about every race I call because for every owner and trainer that particular race is their own Little Brown Jug and may be the closest they get to winning a big race.”

Huston has been married twice and has a daughter from each marriage – Cami Sue who is 43 and Nevele 28, who works in the marketing department at Tioga Downs alongside her husband and manager of operations – Dustin Ross.

He said his greatest loves were his wife Barb, his family and harness racing.

Asked if he had any other hobbies, Huston replied:

“Is there anything else outside of harness racing? Even my car has the license plate THE VOICE RH on it. I have no regrets whatsoever pursuing the life I did. I’m glad I put it ahead of teaching.”

Footnote: Both of Huston’s daughters were named after racehorses. Cami Sue was a quality trotting filly of the 1960s, while Nevele Pride was a former world record holder who raced in the 1960s and 1970s.

by Duane RANGER (editor)

(1) Roger Huston – race call number 150,000 – December 11, 2008:

(2) Roger Huston – the interview:

(3) Roger Huston calling Big Bad John to victory in the 2011 Little Brown Jug:

(4) Roger Huston – a day at the Little Brown Jug:

(5) Roger Huston calling at Yonkers Raceway in 1995:

(6) Roger Huston – handicapping The Little Brown Jug:

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