The second episode of “It’s My Job” takes viewers up close with Pete Aiello, track announcer at River Downs in Cincinnati, Ohio. To view this feature, go to:
Photo: Pete Aiello is flanked by Eclipse Award winners Tom Law and Greg Charkounian
A native of South Florida and a graduate of the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program, Aiello is currently in his fifth season in the booth at River Downs. He also has called the Quarter Horse meetings the last three years at Hialeah Park, a racetrack that was integral in Aiello’s introduction to racing as a youngster.
Aiello got interested in announcing as a child growing up and playing a computer game that simulating races but did not have an announcer. He called his first full card of races while working as an intern at Finger Lakes in New York in 2006. He called races at “bush tracks” in Arizona after that before landing a job as assistant racing secretary, paddock judge, and identifier at Evergreen Park in Alberta, Canada, in the summer of 2007.
“I love that, it was the greatest experience of my life,” Aiello said. “The people at Evergreen Park took care of me better than anyone before or since. It was great being up there.”
Aiello eventually landed another racetrack administration job at Prairie Meadows Race Track in April of 2008 and worked there a few weeks before getting a call from his mentor, the late Churchill Downs track announcer and fellow Arizona grad Luke Kruytbosch, that River Downs was in need of an announcer.
“I owe my entire career to Luke Kruytbosch,” Aiello said. “He knew how to mold me into a good racecaller and he got me my first job on the racetrack, at Rillito Park in Tucson, calling half-mile races.”
Aiello starts his day at River Downs between 10 and 10:30 a.m., chats with some of the track’s regulars about the previous and current day’s races, before heading upstairs to discuss the day’s events, scratches, and changes with Simulcast Director Vincent Cyster and Director of Publicity John Englehardt. He announces the scratches and changes about a half hour prior to the first post and from there it is “showtime” as the day goes on.
“I’m so lucky to have a job like this,” Aiello said. “I mean, just pinch me, I get paid to do this?”
Birth date: November 11, 1985
Birthplace: Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Residence: Cincinnati, Ohio; Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Profession: Track announcer, River Downs and Hialeah Park
Notable: Introduced to racing through family outings to Gulfstream Park, Hialeah Park, and Calder Race Course as a youngster. Graduated from the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program in December 2007, following in the footsteps of mentor and the late Churchill Downs track announcer Luke Kruytbosch. Worked in administrative jobs at several racetracks during and after college, including Finger Lakes, Evergreen Park, and Prairie Meadows Racetrack.