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SANTA ANITA BUGLER JAY COHEN CLOSES IN ON 25TH ANNIVERSARY AT GREAT RACE PLACE AS HE READIES FOR SEPT. 28 OPENING OF 24-DAY AUTUMN MEET
ARCADIA, Calif. (Sept. 17, 2012)—The multi-faceted Jay Cohen, who has served as Santa Anita’s Bugler since Dec. 26, 1987, will continue his 25-year march at The Great Race Place when it opens for its 24-day Autumn Meet on Sept. 28.
A Cherry Hill, New Jersey native, Cohen approaches his job with the enthusiasm of a teenager, working the grandstand between races, performing Happy Birthday songs, telling jokes and regaling fans of all ages with an array of magic tricks—all in addition to his primary obligation, which is to welcome the horses and jockeys onto the track for each race with the Call to the Post.
“Growing up and even out of college, I’d have never in a million years guessed that I’d be celebrating my 25th anniversary working at a racetrack, let alone a place like Santa Anita,” said Cohen. “When I got out of school, I got a job teaching and that’s what I thought I’d be doing for the rest of my life, teaching and playing music.”
How did Cohen, 56, first find his way to Santa Anita?
“I was teaching music in the public schools and my wife was working for RCA. After a trip to Southern California, we kept saying how much we would like to move there. She checked the job openings at RCA and found an opening at NBC (Burbank) and she got the job.
“When we transferred here I wanted to try to be a full-time musician. I was able to get work in two weeks and I picked up a church gig in Glendale. Thanks to a guy named Keith Snell, I found out there was an opening at Santa Anita for a bugler.
“After 25 years, I guess you could say I’ve just about got it figured out, but everyday is still an adventure for me. I love interacting with the people and I love having an opportunity to make them laugh. I get a kick out of seeing them enjoying themselves and enjoying what for many of them is an unforgettable day.”
In addition to Santa Anita, Cohen also serves as the track bugler at Hollywood Park and Fairplex Park.
“Before I started working at Santa Anita, I never saw a horse race except on television. I never went to the track,” Cohen said.
As a result of the connections and friendships he’s cultivated at the racetrack, Cohen has also found regular work in a variety of settings.
“I play at over 1,000 birthdays a year and at lot of parties for (horse) owners, where I do everything from welcoming guests to entertaining them with songs, magic, and stand-up comedy. I also work corporate functions around town like the LA Sports Council dinner, the Jimmy Stewart Marathon and the California 500. I’ve also been fortunate enough to do about 40 movies and television shows,” Cohen added.
As the irrepressible bugler/comic/magician closes in on his 25,000th Call to the Post at Santa Anita, Cohen is eagerly awaiting the two-day Breeders’ Cup World Championships on Nov. 2 & 3.
“People come from all over the world for the Breeders’ Cup. I’ve now learned over 65 national anthems, so hopefully, I’ll have something at the ready for everyone.”