Horse Racing Journalist Joe Kelly Dies At 94

Posted on November 27, 2012

By PressBox Staff

(Photo Courtesy of Jim McCue/MJC)
Joe Kelly spent almost three-quarters of his life surrounded by the sport of kings. A Baltimore native, Kelly lived the entirety of his 94 years in Charm City and covered horse racing for The Baltimore Sun and the Washington Star for almost 50 years before becoming the publicity director for Maryland Million and a historical consultant at Pimlico Race Course the last 26 years. Kelly remained a racing advocate until he died of cancer on Nov. 26.

On Oct. 30, 1947, while he was with The Sun, Kelly became part of the first live remote television broadcast when he announced the fifth and sixth races at Pimlico Race Course with the legendary Jim McKay on WMAR-TV. More than two decades later, while working at the now-defunct Star, Kelly penned a story on Maryland-bred horse Dancer's Image, a 1968 Kentucky Derby winner who was disqualified for a post-race medication violation. The story earned him a national award courtesy of the Thoroughbred Racing Association.

After covering horse racing for more than 30 years, Kelly earned Pimlico's Old Hilltop Award for his outstanding coverage. He took home the award once again in 2000, thus becoming the only two-time winner to date.

"He is a true representative of the greatest generation and always someone you could turn to for historical information," Dave Rodman, Pimlico and Laurel Park announcer, said in a statement. "He was eager to share stories about Maryland racing, especially the Preakness. Nobody loved Pimlico more than Mr. Kelly, who continued to drive to the track almost every day. Coming to the races kept him very sharp. He loved to talk about the horses and handicap the races."

Posted Nov. 27, 2012

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