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Chris Murphy, Published July 21 2013

NDHP announcer Haar keeping his mind on the race

Fargo - Tucked away in a box above the crowds at the North Dakota Horse Park is Bubby Haar. Armed with binoculars and a microphone, he acts as the eyes and ears of the horse races at the ND Horse Park. He was there when it opened in 2003 and has been in the booth every day it has returned to Fargo. After Sunday, Haar finished his ninth season calling races in Fargo.

And he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

“Fargo is my favorite,” Haar said. “The people come here to watch the races. It’s more than just trainers and jockeys watching. At Fargo, especially on a Friday night, you can get four or five thousand people to watch the races. I get into it more when there’s 4,000 people screaming. It just makes it better for everybody. The riders will tell you it’s better to run a race with a crowd. Anybody who tells you differently is mistaken. The population is here and it’s supported.”

One of his biggest fans is someone who can barely hear him, yet has had to listen to him all 19 years of his life. That’s Bubby’s son, Nate.

Nate doesn’t hear his dad because he’s too busy trying to win a race, as he was doing Sunday at the ND Horse Park.

“All my races in North or South Dakota, he’s called,” Nate said. “You’d think I would hear him with the intercom, but really when you’re on the horse you don’t hear nothing, but the other jockeys and the horse’s feet pounding. If you’re winning by a ways you can hear. You can hear the people cheering, but you can’t really hear the announcers.”

Until the perfect time. The first person to congratulate Nate on any victory is dad.

“When he announces, he sells it a little better,” Nate said. “Most announcers say the horse’s name, but when my dad does mine, he always says my name too. It’s always nice to hear that.”

Bubby’s career began in Aberdeen, S.D., when he made a deal with the local race track – after being ignored for having no experience – that he’d stop bugging them if they’d give him one race to call. That was in 1994 and he’s been on the mic ever since. It hasn’t been easy to separate being a dad from work, calling Nate’s races the last two years.

“The first couple of times it was kind of nerve-racking because you’re not even worried about the outcome of the race,” Bubby said. “It’s all about the safety of your child. He has grown and matured so much in the two years I’ve done it, those worries are gone. I still worry, but it doesn’t consume me.

Bubby keeps his eyes on the race to avoid overthinking Nate’s safety.

“I try to concentrate on the race to where there is no time to worry or focus on what Nate is doing,” Bubby said. “Whether he is in front or in back is irrelevant to what I have to do. I have a job to do. I’m more worried about screwing up.”

There are points where he can’t help, but let the dad side out.

“I don’t want to say I’m not aware of where he’s at,” Bubby said. “When he wins, I have that few second where the dad comes out, but it has to be about the race no matter who wants it.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548