It’s in his blood.
The thrill of horse racing worked its way into Dan Jukich at a young age and continues to sustain him after nearly three decades as the ‘Voice of the Races’ at Hastings Racecourse and four decades in the sport.
It may have started when as a youngster Dan first went to the track with his grandma, sitting in Hastings’ old boxes along the rail tightly clutching their $2 show bets, as the ponies thundered by. Not long after, Dan remembers calling a horse race at the top of his lungs while riding his bike up and down the street and pretending to be the winning horse driving to the finish line. Soon enough he’d be calling the races for real.
“It was just the excitement of horse racing that caught me,” he said.
Growing up in east Vancouver, life in the Jukich family revolved around sports. Dan’s mom was a top-flight softball player, while his dad, Roy, was a long-time Vancouver Sun sports reporter. His brother John remains the Canucks visiting team dressing room attendant four decades after Dan himself passed the job over to him. Dan worked in the role from 1965-79 going back to the Canucks’ Western Hockey League days.
After doing some soccer announcing at Callister Park, Dan started calling standardbred racing at Cloverdale Raceway (now Fraser Downs at Elements Casino) in 1978, when an opening to call the Saturday races opened up.
“It was very trying to start with, not the public speaking part, that wasn’t the problem,” recalled Dan. “It was gaining the rhythm. Where you wanted to start and how you wanted to portray the action that was happening on the track. After three or four races, Dad came down from the media box and asked how I was doing. I said, ‘Tell Mr. Keeling I don’t want to do this anymore.’ He just said, ‘Hang in there.’ So I did.”
He maintains this role in the offseason from Hastings to this day.
In 1990, Dan became the track announcer for the thoroughbreds at Hastings and to date has called over 20,000 races there, second only to fellow BC Sports Hall of Famer Jack Short. Including Fraser Downs and other special guest races he’s called at various tracks including Northlands Park in Edmonton (where son Matt announced), Emerald Downs in Washington State, Old Bay Meadows in San Francisco, and Albuquerque Downs in New Mexico it’s estimated Dan has called over 40,000 races in his career.
He’s also served as BC Racing’s director of simulcast racing, negotiating and overseeing TV network feeds for tracks throughout North America, Australia, and Hong Kong. You can also often find Dan emceeing community charity events and serving as a pre-race TV anchor and handicap analyst for international simulcast races.
Now as much a fixture of Hastings as Burrard Inlet and the North Shore Mountains off in the distance, Dan’s signature race opener—“There they go!”—will continue to echo around the track for years to come.
Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.