Q&A With Bob Nastanovich, Chart Caller Extraordinaire

Pop Culture

Photos courtesy of Bob Nastanovich

Bob Nastanovich was born in Rochester, N.Y. but he mostly grew up in Midlothian, Va. He graduated from University of Virginia in 1989 and moved to New York City and became a bus driver. In the 1990s, he played percussion, keyboards and screamed in the rock bands Pavement and Silver Jews. Pavement toured the world several times.

An avid handicapper for more than 30 years, Nastanovich plays the horses daily and is the lone known American to have attended race meetings at all 60 British racecourses. He has owned and bred Thoroughbred racehorses since 1996. Currently, he lives in Des Moines, Iowa with his wife, Whit, and two corgis, Mr. Twinkles and Mr. Ghost. He works in a variety of capacities in racing.



Bob Nastanovich

What I do for a living:

Program Coordinator and Clocker, Prairie Meadows; Chart Caller, Equibase; Data Collection, Thoro-graph; Field Reporter, Daily Racing Form; Columnist, Unbridled Stride; Percussionist, background vocals, Pavement.

How and when I was introduced to Thoroughbred racing:

As a 6-year-old, I lived in Virginia and got caught up in the Secretariat mania. My principal Alan Chenery was a cousin of Penny Chenery. In the 80s, I got hooked on the game as a player when road tripping to Charles Town from Charlottesville. I should have been studying. I hung out at Aqueduct and in the New York City off-track betting parlors when I was a New York bus driver. In the early 90s, I moved directly across the street from the clubhouse entrance of Churchill Downs. It was during this period that I became an owner and breeder.

My favorite racetrack:

In Great Britain, Ripon in North Yorkshire and The July Course at Newmarket are quaint and beautiful. In the U.S., Tampa Bay Downs is a pleasure to attend, but I think they should raise their purses.

My favorite Thoroughbred racing event:

Breeders' Cup, especially the Filly and Mare Turf

Other sports/teams I follow:

Pittsburgh Pirates, Virginia Cavaliers basketball and the soon-to-be relegated Hull City Tigers.

What I would like to see more of in Thoroughbred racing:

Fans attending the races on normal race days. There are ways to lure them in with promotions like free admission, free programs, giveaway $2 betting vouchers and lower prices on concessions. Courtesy vans that travel a basic route could offer a free ride to the track a few times a day. These types of things pay for themselves and make fans think that the track really wants them there.

What I would like to see less of in Thoroughbred racing:

Soft and lenient penalties and suspensions for trainers and veterinarians that use performance-enhancing drugs. The difference between a slight overage for a therapeutic drug and the use of dangerous performance enhancing narcotics should be taken into account. The sport needs more uniformity in its drug policies. If offenders are penalized harshly, the message is sent to clean up procedures.

Three words that define what Thoroughbred racing means to me:

Dramatic, spine-tingling, challenging

First Thoroughbred track I ever attended was:

Charles Town

Favorite all-time Thoroughbred:

Drink Bubbly, Speedy Service, Hersilia

My personal best moment in the sport of Thoroughbred racing:

As an owner, when Six Pack Abs won a starter allowance at Keeneland. As a jockey agent, when Greta Kuntzweiler won the Hawthorne Gold Cup on Freefourinternet.


Best racetrack food can be found at:

Metro Deli at Tampa Bay Downs

My favorite jockey:

Ryan Moore

My favorite trainer:

Susan Anderson

My heroes:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Willie Stargell

Person in Thoroughbred racing I’d like to have dinner with:

Hayley Turner

My philosophy on life:

Keep your head up.

Favorite quote or motto:

No. 1: "The less you bet, the more you lose when you win." No. 2: "You can change the feeling but you can't change the feeling about the feeling." -- David Berman

Favorite animal other than a horse:


Favorite non-Thoroughbred racing sports event I have attended:

Pittsburgh Pirates beating the St, Louis Cardinals at PNC Park last August.

Favorite food:

Chili and Burgoo. I love stews.

Favorite vacation spot:

Hull in East Riding of Yorkshire.

Favorite city:

Hull; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Melbourne, Australia.


Favorite musician/band:

David Yow

Favorite all-time movie(s):

“The Thin Blue Line,” “Harlan County, U.S.A.”

Favorite TV show (s):

“Joker's Wild,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The Sarah Silverman Program.”

Favorite hotel:

The Ring, Vienna, Austria. Red Roof Inn, San Dimas, Calif.

Websites I visit daily:


What I drive:

2001 Ford Windstar SEL (“Sir William Windstar)

Pet peeve:

The cap not on the toothpaste tube.

Favorite movie about horse racing:

Frederick Wiseman's “Racetrack

Which actor would play me in a movie:

I'm afraid it would be John Goodman.

Alma mater:

University of Virginia

Favorite radio shows/channels:

At the Races with Steve Byk.

Best book I recently read:

Hitting the Turf: A Punting Life, by David Ashforth; The Franklin Scandal,” by Nick Bryant

Favorite memento:

Goldikova pin

Favorite dessert:

Lemon meringue pie

Favorite drink:

Confluence Capital Gold Lager

Favorite scent:

Cookies baking

What I like about my jobs:

They are in horse racing.

Favorite tech gadget:

iPad Air

Twitter handle:


People I follow on Twitter:

Autumn de Wilde, Jenny Eliscu, Kari Wuhrer, Candice Hare.

No. 1 Bucket-List item:

Attending the races and sales at Deauville.

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