Meet the HRRN team!
Mike Penna first sat down behind a microphone in 2003 when he began co-hosting the popular Saturday morning “Equine Forum” talk show. In 2005, Mike and the late Pete Kules established the Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN). In addition to producing the “Equine Forum” every week, the duo started to travel to racetracks around the country, providing fans with live coverage of many of the nation’s biggest races. Mike is the current president of HRRN and also serves as the anchor for all of its broadcasts. Last year, HRRN broadcast more than 100 of the nation’s best thoroughbred races. In early 2011, Mike and HRRN received an Eclipse Award for coverage of the 2010 Breeders’ Cup World Championships. This year HRRN will provide complete coverage of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. Derby coverage will be carried on more than 40 affiliate stations across the country as well as on SiriusXM satellite radio. It will also be broadcast to our service men and women around the world on the American Forces Network and streamed worldwide on the HRRN website.
Mike’s passion for racing spans more than 19 years. In 1989, he stood alongside the rail at historic Saratoga Racecourse and watched as Easy Goer won the Travers Stakes. After cashing his winning ticket on the heavy favorite, he was hooked for life. A native of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Mike and his wife, Michelle, relocated to Lexington in 1997. Mike worked at The Jockey Club, Thoroughbred Times, and Keeneland’s racing office before pursuing his interest in broadcasting.
Jude Feld joined the HRRN team in 2007 as paddock reporter and analyst. He has loved Thoroughbred racing since his youth. He began his horseracing career in 1978, making charts for the Daily Racing Form at Ellis Park in Henderson, Kentucky under the tutelage of legendary trackman Jack Valentine. After a stint as assistant trainer to Doug Udouj in the Bluegrass State and to Julio Canani in California, Jude took out his own trainer’s license in 1980. He has trained the winners of 23 stakes, including graded winners Pewter Grey, Steff Graf (Brz) and Vieille Vigne (Fr) as well as multiple stakes winners Broadway Pointe, Freya Stark (Ire), Order and Capel Meister (Fr). Retiring from training in 2000, Jude became a racing publicist, public handicapper and bloodstock consultant. In 2003, he was honored with an Eclipse Award, alongside G.D. Hieronymus, for their collaboration “If it was easy…everyone would do it,” which he wrote and G.D. produced for Keeneland. Jude has an intimate knowledge of the Sport of Kings and countless friends in the Thoroughbred racing industry. In 2011, Jude was honored with his second Eclipse Award as part of our HRRN’s broadcast of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.
Kurt Becker joined HRRN as an analyst in 2009. Kurt began announcing Standardbred and Thoroughbred races as a teenager on the Illinois fair circuit in the mid-1980s, before accepting a post as the Voice of Chicago Racing in January of 1993. In the latter role, he succeeded legendary race caller Phil Georgeff at Arlington Park, Hawthorne Race Course, and Sportsman’s Park. After adding duties as a play-by-play announcer for Motor Racing Network’s live coverage of NASCAR events in 1994, Becker found his way to Kentucky in the spring of 1997 as the track announcer at both Keeneland Race Course and Churchill Downs. Today, Becker remains as the track commentator at Keeneland while also serving as announcer for auctions conducted by both Keeneland Association and the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society. He also continues in his role with MRN Radio as an anchorman and play-by-play announcer, while adding duties as announcer for Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auctions in 2006.
Before joining the HRRN team, Sean Clancy enjoyed a stellar career as a steeplechase jockey. Champion jockey in 1998, Clancy co-publishes Steeplechase Times and The Saratoga Special with his brother Joe. Clancy won the Eclipse Award for writing in 2009, and was part of HRRN’s Eclipse Award-Winning Breeders’ Cup broadcast team in 2010. Sean’s keen eye make his pre and post race insight invaluable to listeners and his unique ability to relate to horsemen helps provide outstanding interviews for HRRN fans. He currently lives in Middleburg, Va. with his wife, son, eight horses, two cats and a goat.
Chad Summers has done a little bit of everything in the horse racing industry. Hooked at a young age attending Belmont Park’s breakfast with the works with his dad and brother he was amazed by what he saw. That love brought him to the University of Kentucky where he was rewarded with a scholarship from the Race for Education. In the industry he has wrote (Thoroughbred Times, greatestgame.com), commentated (recurring guest role on This Week In Thoroughbred Racing with Jude Feld and Ellis Star, Co-Host The Track Kitchen), worked in press box (Keeneland, Turfway Park), night watched – foaling horses (Woodlynn Farm, Chestnut Farm). He has also served various roles ranging from hot walker to assistant trainer, racing manager / Bloodstock Agent to owner at several prestigious tracks including Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Saratoga, Churchill Downs and Oaklawn Park to name a few.
Chad joined the HRRN family in 2012 and is looking forward to bringing the action from both a fan and insider’s perspective to the HRRN fans around the country.
He currently lives on Long Island, New York with his wonderful wife Hope and their energetic son Sean Ryder.
Ellis Starr, also known as “Ubercapper”, has been studying horse racing and handicapping for over 35 years and was one of the first in his profession to publish his selections on the Internet, becoming an immediate hit with his philosophy of “teaching people to fish” while “giving them fish” at the same time. Ellis does this by sharing the methodology he uses as part of the insightful, top-quality selections and analysis he creates.
Ellis is the National Racing Analyst for Equibase, The Thoroughbred Industry’s Official Source for Racing Information, writing a widely distributed “Race of the Week” story covering the biggest races in North America, which also appear on America’s Best Racing at followhorseracing.com. His selections and analysis for races around the country can be found at the web sites of the major advance deposit wagering companies in North America – Twinspires and Xpressbet as well as Equibase and TrackMaster. Ellis’ insights can also be found via twitter @ubercapper.
Ellis also puts his money where his mouth is by participating in Handicapping Tournaments, last year winning the Derby Wars $30,000 Belmont Shootout. In addition, 2012 marked the seventh straight year Ellis qualified to join an elite group to qualify for the Keeneland Tournament of Champions. Ellis also was one of only 350 people in the world to have qualified for the TwinSpires Online Handicapping Championship.
Sean has had a passion for horseracing since his youth, tagging along on racetrack trips with his dad, Bob, at every opportunity. He learned how to read the Daily Racing Form at the age of eight and has been handicapping races ever since.
His first hands-on experience with horses came as a weekend hotwalker and barn hand for trainer Grant Hofmans when he was just 13. At 15, he spent a summer working in Lexington, Kentucky at the legendary 505 Farm. It was during that time that he decided to apply to the University of Kentucky.
Upon graduation from the prestigious Loyola High School of Los Angeles in 2005, he entered UK graduating from there in 2009 with a Bachelors degree in Agricultural Economics. During his college years, Sean worked at various Thoroughbred sales for Bongo Racing and Bobfeld Bloodstock and also worked a summer for Kellyn Gorder, who did the early training for WinStar Farm, prior to becoming a public trainer as well as interning at the prestigious Gainesway Farm.
After a seasonal stint with Walmac Farm in 2010, Sean took full-time employment at Spendthrift Farm. He played a major role in Spendthrift’s acquisition of Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) winner Court Vision as well Beholder, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1). Sean started working for Bullet Train LLC in January of 2013.
Billy White began working with HRRN in 2006 when he served as an analyst alongside Mike & Pete. He is a chicago native and entrepreneur who considers Lexington KY his second hometown and Keeneland racecourse as hallowed grounds. When not working with HRRN, he operates a sales company and is an owner of several Jimmy John’s restaurants. Billy is a racing enthusiast who has owned horses in partnership with Ashby Thoroughbreds since 1999. He refers to himself as a “frustrated handicapper and horse pontificator”.
Lee grew up in Burgettstown, PA, moved to Lexington, KY in 1988 and began his radio career as morning show co-host at WXZZ. In 2002, Lee joined LM Communications Radio Group as afternoon show host on WCDA, while also writing for ACE Weekly, Lexington’s alternative newspaper. Over the past decade Lee has been both on-air and behind-the-scenes for multiple stations, including operations manager of WLXO-FM and WLXG-AM. He has also written for several Lexington publications including the Ace Weekly, the Chevy Chaser, and the Snitch. Lee joined the HRRN team as producer in the summer of 2011. He is married to his beautiful wife Annalee, and has one child, the sweet baby Violet Dellapina.
Shawn was born in Lexington and raised up and down the East Coast. His first experience in radio was hosting an overnight show on the University of Georgia’s student run station. He was producer of the Dave Elswick Show, was an integral part of bringing ESPN Radio into Lexington and helped to start up the Lexington Legends radio network. In 2005, after a stint in the US Coast Guard, Shawn returned to the radio business and has been involved in all aspects of stations in both Lexington, KY and Savannah, Ga. He currently lives in Lexington with his fiancee, author Mehitobel Wilson, and his beautiful daughter, Lillie.
Michelle has been an integral member of the HRRN team since its inception. Working behind the scenes to organize various aspects of the broadcasts, she has helped assure the success of the network. In 2011, Michelle stepped into the role of on-site producer and quickly established herself as one of the best in the business while travelling with the HRRN team to racetracks throughout the country. A native of North Adams, Massachusetts, Michelle moved to Lexington, KY in 1997 with her husband and HRRN President Mike Penna. She has worked in racing for more than a decade as a member of The Jockey Club.