Harvey Pack was a pioneer in the field of on-air racing personalities.
His curmudgeonly personality and dry sense of humor made him a favorite among New York horseplayers.
Harvey passed away last summer at his New York city apartment, due to complications from cancer. He was 94 years of age.
Mr. Pack always comes to mind this time of year (Saratoga) as there are many a northeast horseplayer who have nursed a Bloody Mary as well as a hangover, listening to Harvey expound on a Saratoga card during his show outside Siro’s.
Harvey was born and raised on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and he got hooked on the game by his father during racing’s golden era, when massive crowds would jam the New York tracks.
Pack was quick to pick up on the nuances of both the Racing Form and the sociology of the betting public.
In a 1998 interview Pack recalled a time when his mother told him that he had surpassed his father with his interest in horse betting. But he didn’t know if she meant as a handicapper or as a bum. Classic Harvey Pack.
His gig at Siro’s began in 1998 when he was 71. He hosted daily Saratoga seminars on a stage set up in the parking lot of the legendary watering hole, which is located across the street from the track.
It was on that stage where Pack bluntly advocated for not betting on the heavy chalk at all.
A favorite rhyming quip he often repeated was; “Hardly is now a man alive, who paid the mortgage at 3-to-5.”
As readers of the Daily Racing Blog are well aware, we feel the same way about betting short-priced favorites.
These are lessons we learned by spending many a race day morning listening to Harvey Pack, whilst sipping a mimosa at Siro’s.
Once asked in 2018 if he had any regrets about his career choice. He paused briefly to consider if he would have rather done something else with his life, and then wryly said; “I wouldn’t have been able to get to the track every day, and anyway I didn’t want to work that hard.”
Thank you for your wisdom and aversion to chalk Harvey, as well as the fun and joy you brought to the game, and sharing it with us.