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NEWS RELEASE: Three Named to Join Press Box Hall of Fame at FG
New Orleanians Gremillion, Paretti, Hodges, Jr. Latest to be Honored
Three longtime veterans of the New Orleans press corps will be inducted into the Press Box Hall of Fame at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots during ceremonies to be held following the races on Wednesday, March 12, at the Crescent City oval.
New Orleans natives Glenn Gremillion, who started with the Fair Grounds television department in 1972; A. J. Paretti, who began his Fair Grounds career as a chart maker in 1991 for Daily Racing Form; and track photographer Lou Hodges Jr, who joined his track photographer-father in a professional capacity in 1976, will become the three latest Press Box Hall of Fame members during ceremonies in the Black Gold Room.
Those three, all sexagenarians now but with childhood memories at the local oval, will be honored as part of a dual ceremony to be held in conjunction with this year’s latest additions to the Fair Grounds Hall of Fame, which honors owners, trainers, jockeys and horses that have played a significant role in local racing lore.
The historic Fair Grounds, considered to be the third-oldest race course in the nation, was one of the first to honor the human and equine stalwarts who raced here but also the first to honor those who have contributed significantly to media coverage of Fair Grounds and thoroughbred racing in New Orleans with a Press Box Hall of Fame.
Those who will be inducted into the Fair Grounds Hall of Fame, which currently has 124 members, are expected to be announced later this month, butGremillion, Paretti and Hodges will expand the list of Press Box Hall of Fame members to 34.
Glenn Gremillion started his professional career here in November of 1972 as a cameraman on the front tower for Galjour Electronics but quickly graduated to the pan camera, fulfilling those duties for Galjour not only here but also at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, and at River Downs in Cincinnati, Ohio. Those three tracks were his regular circuit for most of his career but he also worked for a time at Turfway, Kentucky Downs, Evangeline Downs, Jefferson, Lone Star Park, Remington and helped set up the TV operation at Delta.
“Working in a television department at any racetrack always involves a team effort,” said Gremillion, who now lives in Lexington and works year-round at Keeneland running that track’s HD operation during the race meets as well as Keeneland’s various annual sales.
“When I first started at Fair Grounds, Gaston Galjour was my boss and my mentor but our team effort also involved people like Mark Segreto andScott Mulkey, who still run the operation at Fair Grounds,” Gremillion said. “Even though Gaston is retired and I’m now based in Lexington, Mark and Scott and I are all still on the phone almost every day helping each other out with our various challenges. All of us are still a team.”
A J. Paretti started coming to the Fair Grounds “with my Daddy when I was eight or nine years old,” he recalled fondly. “I first got involved professionally at Fair Grounds in 1976, but I first came here to work in 1991 for Daily Racing Form as a call taker and then moved on to Evangeline. In 1992, I became a trackman at Jefferson Downs and started calling the charts at Fair Grounds in 1993 shortly before the fire. My teletype operators were Marge and Jim Turnbull. They were the last two people out of the building that night.
“Racing was a lot more fun in those days,” said Paretti, who soon became one of the most respected trackmen in the nation whose daily racing charts were studied religiously by local handicappers. “It was a job you loved and you always wanted to be here. However, I moved to Opelousas, Louisiana, after Hurricane Katrina and the job started to involve too much travelling. It was too much of a grind. I retired from Equibase March 28, 2010, but if it wasn’t for Katrina I’d probably still be working there at Fair Grounds. I’m honored to be going into the Press Box Hall of Fame with Glenn and Lou. We’ve all worked together here at Fair Grounds and the other tracks around Louisiana most of our adult lives.
Lou Hodges, Jr., who has also served as a track photographer at Rockingham Park, Arlington, Washington Park and Louisiana Downs, will become part of the first father-son Press Box Hall of Fame tandem at Fair Grounds when he is inducted to join his late former track photographer father Lou Hodges, Sr.
“I took my first pictures here at Fair Grounds with an old Speed Graphic camera my father gave me as a 12-year-old,” Hodges said. “My father was a veteran of the Army Air Corps during World War II who started working here in about 1960 under a man named Jack Blythe. When that man retired my father became the track photographer. I joined him here in 1976. Almost every day one of these old timers that have been coming here forever will come up to me and say ‘Man, you been around here a real long time – almost as long as I’ve been coming here!’”