Saratoga Springs

Former NYRA lead announcer Marshall Cassidy dies at age 75; praised for his accuracy

PHOTOGRAPHER:

Marshall Cassidy, the former lead annnouncer on the New York Racing Association circuit, died at the age of 75 at his home in Saratoga Springs on  Sunday.

He served in a variety of capacities at Saratoga Race Course, Belmont Park and Aqueduct, including as patrol and placing judge.

Known for his precise diction and the accuracy of his calls, Cassidy started as a track announcer in New York in the 1970s as a backup to Dave Johnson and Chic Anderson and became the lead announcer in 1979 upon the death of Anderson.

Cassidy held that position until 1990, when he was succeeded by Tom Durkin.

Perhaps his most memorable call was the 1989 Belmont Stakes, when Cassidy finished with “New York’s Eeeeeasy Goer … in front,” as Easy Goer thwarted the Triple Crown bid by the California-based Sunday Silence.

“Marshall had a voice that belonged in the Hall of Fame,” Durkin told the NYRA media office. “He had a resonant baritone and his timbre was perfect. In terms of New York announcers – and this is the highest praise – he was on an even par with Fred Capossela. The most important thing for a racetrack announcer to be is accurate. And for that, Marshall was peerless.”

“Nobody was more accurate than Marshall,” said John Imbriale, the current NYRA lead announcer. He was mentored by Cassidy at Aqueduct in the 1980s.

“His call of Easy Goer’s Belmont Stakes win will be remembered forever,” Imbriale said. “He was very supportive and really took the time to help me. His help was extremely important.”

“Marshall Cassidy was incredibly skilled at his craft and a true ambassador for thoroughbred racing in New York,” NYRA president and CEO Dave O’Rourke said. “Marshall was a friend to so many, especially in Saratoga, where he could so often be found mixing it up in the press box or talking to fans in the backyard. We mourn his loss and offer our condolences to his friends, family and colleagues past and present.”

In addition to his duties on the NYRA circuit, Cassidy called races throughout the 1980s on television for CBS, ABC, NBC and ESPN.

Cassidy was a member of a distinguished multi-generational family of racing officials in New York.

His maternal grandfather, Marshall Whiting Cassidy, was a race starter and later a steward, who eventually became racing director for NYRA’s predecessor agencies, and later the executive director of The Jockey Club.

Cassidy’s maternal great-grandfather, Marshall (Mars) Cassidy, was also a fixture in New York racing as a race starter, the first to use a barrier to start a race, and was immortalized in coverage by Damon Runyon.

George Cassidy, Cassidy’s grand-uncle, was also a race starter, serving for upwards of 50 years, mostly at NYRA tracks, before he retired in 1980.

 

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