It seems like every single person on Horse Racing Twitter is outraged beyond words about the sudden and unexpected firing of Santa Anita track announcer Michael Wrona by Tim Ritvo of The Stronach Group. The typical comment goes something like this: “After being forced to win an audition, he was fired suddenly from his dream job. This is no way to treat people.”
Personally, I have no opinion on Michael Wrona because I don’t know him. As far as track announcers go, for me there is Kurt Becker and then there is everyone else. Some I like more than others. Some I truly can’t stand. Some I know personally. But even if I felt like Michael Wrona was the cream of the crop, I’d have the following take: Ritvo and company felt, correctly or incorrectly, that replacing Wrona would be good for business. Maybe they didn’t like his style and feel his replacement would somehow attract more fans and more wagering dollars. Maybe Wrona made too much money and they wanted to cut costs. Maybe they are taking their broadcast in a totally new direction and felt Wrona was not the right guy. Who the hell knows? Regardless of the reason, and regardless of what kind of person Michael Wrona is, from my perspective, The Stronach Group seems to be fighting like hell to keep the land on which Santa Anita sits from becoming stacked with really expensive condos. Horse racing has a big problem. And that problem might grow exponentially in the coming years as more and more states allow sports wagering. At some point (and we may already be there) it may become impossible to justify using valuable land as a parking lot for a racetrack that isn’t generating sufficient revenue for its owners. And if The Stronach Group thinks replacing Michael Wrona might be good for business, I’m not going to second guess them.