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The Notebook January 10, 2013

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Two Minute Lick - Hank Goldberg

Name: Hank Goldberg

Birthplace: Newark, NJ

Known as “The Hammer,” Hank Goldberg is a lover of all things pari-mutuel. The South Florida sports radio legend is a familiar face on ESPN thanks to his football handicapping and reporting, and he also was a key, on-air member of ESPN’s horse racing telecasts. 

Most influential person in my career: My father, who was a columnist. When I was young, he used to go to spring training with the [New York] Yankees in St. Petersburg. I was a bat boy for the Yankees at one time during spring training. He covered racing, too. His picture was up in the press box at Pimlico when I was there.

My out-of-the-box idea for Thoroughbred Racing: They really need to promote the game to young people and make them interested. And make the game less intimidating. Make racing more customer friendly.

My favorite racetrack: The one nearest to me. But I love Santa Anita, still. Saratoga’s a great experience. I could say something positive about almost every racetrack I’ve been to.

My fantasy job: Playing opposite of Diane Lane in the sequel to Secretariat. Or The Cotton Club. Or any other movie she’s been in.

What I like most about my job: ESPN is a wonderful place to work. The people there are very supportive, and if I have a story idea they’ll listen to it.

Other sports/teams I follow: I cover pro football, but not so much now. I still handicap five games every Sunday and one for Monday Night Football. And I love college basketball.

My Heroes: I broadcast the [Miami] Dolphins for 15 years, and I covered [Dan] Marino and looked up to him. [Joe] DiMaggio was a hero of mine; my dad covered his career, and when I was a kid I had my picture taken with him a couple of times. I’ve been really fortunate; I’ve met a lot of great people in sport and racing who I’ve looked up to over the years ... Laz Barrera, [Charlie] Whittingham … real legends of the sport … and I became friends with a lot of them.

Something about myself that would surprise those who know me: I don’t always win, but I don’t think that would surprise people. I love politics, too – I’m very interested in that.

My favorite athletes of all-time: Marino and DiMaggio. I also admired [Don] Shula a lot. He was the only coach I ever covered during the 15 years I wrote about the Dolphins.

Most treasured possession/memento: It’s a boxing glove. When I had my gall bladder out, Angelo Dundee brought me a signed boxing glove from Muhammad Ali.

A Pet Peeve: Listening to some of the talk shows, some of the hosts jump to conclusions and throw opinions out there without backing them up.

Favorite Magazines: I read People every week.

Favorite websites: I keep up with pro football information, because I handicap five games a week, and I’m always looking for an edge.

Gadget I cannot live without: Nobody can live without a cell phone, let’s face it.

Last concert I attended: Eagles – and I’ll go see them again on their next tour. They’re amazing.

Favorite foods: I like Italian food, and I like Greek food. I worked for Jimmy the Greek years ago, so I got to know some Greek dishes that I still like. And I love chicken livers with onions.

What I drive: I have a Saab convertible, and they stopped making them recently, so I don’t know what I’m going to do when the lease is up.

If I could be on stage with any musical group the instrument I would play is: Bass guitar, no question. Those are the cool guys.

Favorite Actor: Matt Damon – I’ve never seen anything he’s been in that’s bad. Brad Pitt, too. He was great in Moneyball.

Newspaper I read daily: I read five every day: Miami Herald, Sun Sentinel, USA Today, the New York Post, and the New York Daily News every Sunday because of Mike Lupica.  And when I can, I read the L.A. Times.

I’d like to have dinner with: Steve Cauthen, Jack Kennedy and Frank Sinatra

Best racetrack food can be found at: They have good food at Gulfstream, but the best food is at Keeneland. Best corned beef sandwiches.

Accomplishment I am most proud of: Picking the Trifecta when Blame beat Zenyatta – I picked it on the nose, 1-2-3, on the air.

My philosophy on life: Get it all in while you can.

Things I collect: I have some nice racing memorabilia. I have a montage of all Triple Crown winners that Pete Axthelm’s widow brought me. People send me sports books that they have written, and I’ve kept them.

Favorite authors: I like spy novels and books about the movie business. Mike Lupica has written some pretty good books. Definitely Elmore Leonard, too.

Favorite animal other than a horse: Greyhound, I guess.

The actor who would play me in a movie: Brad Pitt, of course! No, I don’t know, I’ve never really given it a lot of thought. Brian Dennehy is a good friend of mine.

Favorite non-Thoroughbred racing sports event I have attended: I’ve been to most Super Bowls. Wimbledon was pretty good – I really enjoyed that. And right before I went to Wimbledon, I went to Royal Ascot. But the Super Bowl is always great. When Whitney Houston sang the National Anthem, when the [New York] Giants played [the] Buffalo [Bills], the highlight was definitely her singing. The atmosphere in the stadium was electric. There are few events that can replace the excitement when the gates open at Churchill for the Derby. Another moment is when Zenyatta pranced into the paddock for the Breeders’ Cup. I said on the air, “The last time I was an entrance to a sporting event like that was when Ali walked into the ring.” That was an all-time moment for me.

The historical figure I most identify with: I’m a person who likes to have a good time. I think I identify with a hysterical figure, not a historical one. I’m a Jack Lemmon-type rather than a historical type.

The living person I most admire: I admire Shula a lot. I also admire the Kennedy family. I admire Al Michaels. When I did my first Derby for ABC, sitting next to Al on the set, working with him—that was exciting to me. We’re friends, and he can cover any sport. He’s still on top of his game and he never seems to lose it. He’s the greatest living guy.

No. 1 Bucket List Item: I’ve been to every sporting event I’ve ever wanted to attend, I think. I’ve never been to Australia – that’s something I’d like to do. I wouldn’t mind owning a Triple Crown horse. 

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Fan Photo of the week

Congratulations Casey Phillips!

Congratulations to Casey Phillips, winner of this week's Fan Photo Contest! From Casey: "I was at Hollywood Park for the debut of Zenyatta's little sister, Eblouissante. Here is a photo from the momentous occasion when Eblouissante won easily in a style reminiscent of her big sister." Want in? E-mail a .jpg and brief caption to photos@NTRA.com to submit a photo for consideration!

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