‘Consummate Professional’ Bob Neumeier Passes; Played Key Role On Major Racing Telecasts

Popular Boston sportscaster Bob Neumeier, a reporter and analyst on horse racing telecasts on NBC and ESPN for more than a quarter century, died Oct. 23 at the age of 70. Neumeier’s wife, Michele Ucci, told the Boston Globe that her husband suffered from congestive heart failure and heart disease and had been in hospice care for the last two months.

Known as “Neumy” to friends and fans, Neumeier – a graduate of Syracuse University – had been doing play-by-play for the World Hockey League’s Hartford Whalers when he became a reporter and sports anchor for Boston’s Channel 4 in 1981, a position he held for 20 years.

In the 1980s, Neumeier – an avid horse racing fan and sharp handicapper – began working for Breeders’ Cup on a newsfeed that distributed news and personality features nationally to local TV channels.

In 1990. Neumeier joined the NBC Sports broadcast team for the Breeders’ Cup, and his reporting and interview skills went into play almost immediately on a tragic day at Belmont Park when three horses died on track, Shaker Knit and Mr. Nickerson in the Sprint and champion filly Go For Wand in the Distaff. He played a similar role during the challenging post-race coverage of Barbaro’s ultimately fatal injury in the 2006 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

“It was very similar in terms of the raw emotion that was palpable from the patrons and the people on the track and surrounding the track,” Neumeier told Houston Chronicle columnist David Barron after the 2006 Preakness. “Professionally, we’ve been there before, and unfortunately, it’s not a pleasant experience. But we’re trained to handle it.”

Neumeier continued his reporting during racing telecasts (while also doing hockey play by play on Boston radio), but it was his handicapping and on-camera bantering with others, from the late eccentric horseplayer from England, John McCririck, to Mike Battaglia, Eddie Olczyk and others. Neumeier took his handicapping seriously and backed up his opinions at the windows.

He had two publicized health setbacks, the first coming in 2009 when he was taken to a Louisville hospital after collapsing at Churchill Downs during Kentucky Derby week. Five years later, he suffered a stroke just days before the 2014 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. He recovered from both incidents, most notably coming back from the stroke to win an NTRA sponsored media handicapping tournament held in conjunction with the National Horseplayers Championship in January 2015. Neumeier was back on the air for the 2015 Triple Crown.

Breeders’ Cup issued the following statement about Neumeier’s passing: “We were very saddened to learn today of the passing of Bob Neumeier. Bob was a big part of the NBC Breeders’ Cup World Championships broadcasts for many years as a handicapper, reporter and analyst. Bob brought his expertise of Thoroughbred racing and a great sense of humor to every show.  We extend our sincere condolences to Bob’s wife Michele and to his extended family.”

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