Sam Grossman, aka Sam the Bugler, is officially calling it quits at Saratoga, but fans still will get a chance to see him in 2023
Last June, when Saratoga Report caught up with Sam Grossman, aka “Sam the Bugler”, NYRA’s race bugler at Saratoga Race Course for nearly three decades, he was facing serious health issues and had just announced he would not play at the Saratoga meet in 2022. “I took a routine blood test after changing insurance,” the South Florida resident explained to Saratoga Report in that interview. “The results were catastrophically bad and I went directly to the hospital for kidney failure.”
A year later, the South Florida resident is in much better health. “I’m fine now,” he noted. “I’ve lost 30 pounds, but I need to lose a lot more.”
Grossman at Belmont. All photos herein posted with permission from Sam Grossman's Facebook page
So does his improved health mean Grossman will be at Saratoga Race Course this year? No, at least not as the regular bugler. “I won’t do Saratoga again,” he said. “Tony did a great job and the fans love him. It’s Tony’s gig now.”
“Tony” is Tony Gambaro, one of the leaders of the Capital Region Band “Ten Most Wanted” who filled in for Grossman for the 2022 meet. “Tony is a nice man and a great trumpet player,” Grossman declared. “I replaced myself with the best trumpet player within 100 miles of the Capital District.” Tony’s son, Carson Gambaro, served as his father’s understudy, and most days of the Saratoga meet they played together.
The respect Grossman has for his successor is reciprocal. “First and foremost, there is no replacing Sam,” Gambaro proclaimed. “Our only hope was to provide racegoers with a different spin entertaining thousands of people daily!” Gambaro told Saratoga Report that he was thankful to both Grossman and the fans for all the support they received at the 2022 meet. “In my opinion Sam is the “Johnny Carson” of buglers and as you know, that position was never the same again!
Grossman explained that ending his long tenure at Saratoga Race Course was a simple career decision. “I make my living now as a public school teacher north of Miami,” he noted. “I have to be back to school by August 10th.”
But Sam the Bugler is not done being the Sam the Bugler for NYRA, at least on special occasions. In June, he will play the “Call to Post” for the races on Belmont Stakes Day, his 31st in a row. His twin brother, Irv Grossman, will join him, as will Bethann Dixon, who has played several times at NYRA and other tracks over the years after Grossman recruited her after a chance meeting at the 2012 Preakness Stakes.
From L ro R: Sam Grossman, Bethann Dixon, and Irv Grossman at the 2019 Belmont Stakes
Grossman didn’t rule out occasional returns to Saratoga Race Course, but has no specific plans as of yet. For now, he is focused on Belmont Day. “I’m delighted to go,” he declared. “I get to visit my kids and see people I spent most of my adult life working with, as well as the fans, and I will be with the best jockeys in the world.”
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