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Man returns as Charles Town Races track announcer

April 30, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Costy Caras looked over the card for the next race before announcing it over the loudspeakers at the Charles Town Races Wednesday afternoon.

"I'm trying to break myself back in gently," Caras, 72, said. "I'm doing things like a first-timer."

For about 30 years, Caras has been the voice of the Charles Town Races as the track announcer.

"I tell you, it beats working for a living," Caras said with a wide smile.

He missed the end of racing last November when a triple bypass operation sidelined him.

The Jamaica, N.Y., native grew up around race tracks.

Caras worked for the Daily Racing Form in New York and then got a job as an assistant announcer. He moved to the Pimlico race track in Maryland, which then owned the Charles Town race track. He moved to Charles Town in 1962, working first in public relations before becoming the announcer.

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He has no plans to retire.

"I retired when I took the job," he said with a laugh. "My days used to be golf in the afternoon and racing at night."

Though he makes it sound easy, Caras actually spends quite a bit of time in preparation between each race.

He announces the horses to the fans, then shuts off the mike and goes over the names aloud, repeating them so that as they go around the track he can tell the crowd the positions.

Like the rest of the track, his small office is undergoing renovations. The counter where he kept his paperwork has been temporarily replaced by a small cocktail table from the dining room.

On top of it among the racing cards is a small, faded photograph of his wife.

As the race nears, he hums softly to himself, then turns on the mike. "The horses are at the starting gate," he says.

There's a pause and he goes over the names again. "It is now post time," he says.

His voice changes as the race begins and he accentuates his words for the crowd.

"And they're off," he says. He calls out the lead changes, watching the race through a pair of field glasses.

Caras calls out the names of the horses, describing the lead changes in a tight race until the horses sprint across the finish line.

It sounds smoothly done, but he critiques himself, saying he's still "rusty."

He can't remember the oddest horse name he's ever had to call. On Wednesday, there were horses with names like "Mystic Gate," "Hard Shell Crab" and "Midnight Blizzard."

"There's been some tongue twisters over the years. Sometimes I think the owners do that to annoy the track announcers," he said laughing.

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