Trevor Denman © Benoit Photo
Trevor Denman called the last race at Del Mar’s fall session on December 1, 2019. Shortly thereafter, he and his wife of 26 years, Robin, saddled up and headed east to their little piece of heaven in Kellogg (population 450), Minnesota for a winter’s nap that turned out to be a whole lot longer than they’d planned.
As a result of the COVID pandemic, the Denmans opted to lay low on their 500-acre rural farm for what wound up being the whole year and even into 2021, causing the race caller to miss his first Del Mar season since he began employing his distinctive tones and style at the shore oval in 1984.
Del Mar was able to plug in a fine pinch-hitting caller for both of its 2020 meets in Larry Collmus, but now stands ready to return its longtime (this will be his 37th Del Mar summer) “voice” to the stand starting on July 16.
How and what has Trevor been doing during his extended hiatus? Read on and let him tell you.
Q – How are both you and Robin doing after approximately 20 months at home avoiding the pandemic?
A – We are doing really well. We are so remote that COVID did not affect us very much. We have a driveway which is a mile long, so we do not even see the mailman – he drops the mail at the end of the drive. We have a new farmhouse and these new houses are practically sound proof, so we don’t even hear the UPS deliveries arrive (which is about twice a week). We open the front door and there they are. I get gas once every 5 or 6 weeks and even grocery shopping is a breeze nowadays – one orders online, arranges a time for pick up and someone bring a trolly out and loads your groceries into the trunk. No contact at all! Since we live in farmland and the towns are very small the chances of getting enough vegetarian supplies are not very high, so our grocery shopping is done 45 miles away in Rochester (population 106,000). Ironically, Rochester is the home of the Mayo Clinic, which means there are tons of healthy food choices. Overall, dealing with the pandemic has gone well in Minnesota. They’re mostly law-abiding citizens with great morals and they have handled it very responsibly.
Q – You built a new house and moved into it in 2019. You said your old farm house (built in 1858) was simply going to be ‘left to the critters’ (mice, squirrels, etc.) How are the critters doing in their new home?
A – We were just a nuisance to them when we lived in the house; we were squatting in their territory. They think they own the house anyway, so they are doing just fine.
The view from the Denmans’ house looking east from their back deck toward the village of Kellogg in Minnesota.
Q – How will you return to Del Mar – take a train, take a plane, take a car?
A – We are driving. I have a penchant for Indian War battle sites. We are going through South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming, which are prime battle site states. So we will take a week to get to Del Mar.
Q – Do you have your regular spot to stay here for the summer?
A – Yes, we stay in a very quiet area near Lake Hodges. It’s tucked away behind trees on a large lot.
Q – Will you go back to Kellogg between Del Mar’s summer and fall meets?
A – Yes. It’s just too long to stay in California for that period of time (approximately two months).
Q – It’s going to be more than a year and a half between race calls for you. Any concerns?
A – I feel a little weird right now. I will probably call some races off TVG in my entertainment room this week just to ‘loosen up.’
Q – Del Mar used to race six days per week, but now the focus is on fuller weekend race cards and less weekday racing. How much easier is it for you now with the fewer race days?
A – Thank goodness I was in my 30’s and 40’s back then! (He’s 68 now). We would live life to the fullest each night and still be at the track six days a week. I dare not go out at night now because I might miss work for two days afterwards! It is certainly much easier now, though I wouldn’t mind a five-day week.
Q – There aren’t a lot of Mexican restaurants in the Kellogg area; there are many in Southern California. How do you and your vegetarian ways get on with Mexican cuisine?
A – We have a great Mexican restaurant (authentic) in a place called Lake City, which is about 35 miles away, but that’s no problem when you have all day to eat lunch. Besides, the drive is along the shores of beautiful Lake Pepin and there is hardly any traffic. They have delicious vegetarian food. In San Diego we have a Mexican restaurant where they have a special menu just for vegetarians – perfect!
Q – When you dropped back from a year-round schedule to calling only Del Mar in 2016, you used a lovely phrase to explain it: “It is time to stop counting dollars and start counting stars.” How have those stars been looking in Minnesota?
A – The stars at night are truly unbelievable! One looks up and sees a billion stars. Then one gets the binoculars out and looks up and sees a trillion stars. We see the International Space Station all the time. It feels like you can almost touch it. The night sky is just so tranquil. You want to be awed by the solar system? Come see it in rural Minnesota. Ursa Minor (Big Dipper) is right outside my bedroom window and the North Star is right there, too. Awe-inspiring sight!