Profile: Dave Brower

Grand Ambassador

Hall of Fame Communicator Dave Brower’s legacy lives on

story by James Witherite

Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, a young Dave Brower often accompanied his dad, Dave Sr., from their Passaic, N.J., home to the Meadowlands, where the elder Brower would hold court on a nightly basis on the upper floor of the old grandstand. Young Dave had a front-row seat to a group of guys discussing who they liked in each race, with his dad in the center of it, effectively moderating the exchange.

Enamored with harness racing, the younger Brower soaked up that experience, and after studying journalism across the Hudson and East Rivers at St. John’s University, returned to follow in his father’s footsteps—but in a way only the younger Brower could. He held a court of his own at the Big M for the better part of three decades—not around a table overlooking the track, but instead across airwaves and computer screens with a worldwide audience of horsepeople and horseplayers thousands strong.

And, remarkably, uncannily and unfailingly, he made each of us feel like we were the most important person in the room.

That changed on Oct. 7, 2022, when harness racing suddenly and unexpectedly lost its grand ambassador. While on assignment at the Red Mile, in Lexington, Ky., Dave Brower died at age 53. Sure, the show has since gone on, but Brower—with his signature blend of institutional knowledge, horse sense and personability—has left a mighty big pair of shoes to fill on the sport’s largest broadcasts.

And although Brower has signed off for the final time, his legacy has been immortalized through his posthumous induction into the Harness Racing Communicators Hall of Fame. I first met Brower in the summer of 2006. I had a few weeks between assignments on the Michigan fair circuit, and so my grandfather and I decided to take yet another weekend racetrack road trip—this time to New Jersey to visit the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park.

At the time, I was a junior in college who had called all of two county fair meetings, but somehow Brower knew more about me than I did about him. He knew I had just released a jazz album that past spring—not only that, he’d bought it and listened to it.

This anecdote isn’t unique to me. This was Brower at his core. As much as he loved harness racing, he loved people more—and the sport we all love is what we were fortunate enough to bond over.

“Years ago, when I was in college, I was gambling and watching the races at the Meadowlands, and those guys—it was the Mecca. Sam (McKee), Dave, Holly (Bob Heyden)—it was the best broadcast in the business,” shared Gabe Prewitt, longtime voice of Pompano Park and current Red Mile announcer. “I’d reach out to Dave and say, ‘Hey, could you send me a proof?’ This was before there were driver changes in the program, and I wanted to gauge who took what horse, things like that. At that point, he didn’t know me from anybody, but he was great and accommodating.”

“He was an extremely popular guy who always had people stopping by the set,” echoed former New York Daily News turf writer and current Meadowlands TV presenter Dave Little, who shared the Big M desk with Brower from 2017 until Brower’s passing. “Sometimes, they would interrupt us because he was so engaging and so willing to speak with them—almost to the point of being annoying. But Dave was a guy who wanted to include everybody in the process, even the guy at the rail with his hot dog and his program. He never minded when people stopped by and asked questions; in fact, he embraced that.”


From 1996 until 2011, and again from 2017 until 2022, Brower served as the Meadowlands’ morning line oddsmaker, program handicapper and lead TV presenter—a combination of roles that required, first and foremost, an immense core knowledge of every horse on the grounds. Beyond that, Brower’s strong grasp of pari-mutuel mathematics in order to generate accurate and balanced morning lines, newspaper-like turnaround times on his informed and insightful commentary that graced the bottom of every program page, and extremely personal demeanor made him the perfect fit for harness racing’s biggest stages.

Having done each of those jobs myself at some point, I can speak to how challenging it is to consistently perform at a high level. Yet, somehow, Brower made it look effortless.

“Dave did the morning line in the wake of Charlie Singer, who did it at a level not seen before or since,” explained Little. “I don’t think Dave was intimidated by that in any way, shape or form, and he did an outstanding job at both the morning line and comments.”

Brower’s penchant for dissecting replays and his first-hand horsemanship sense gave him a uniquely holistic handicapping perspective, and his way with words and people made him an expert analyst who developed an instant rapport with virtually anyone who heard him.

“He was always accessible to everyone,” said Jason Settlemoir, general manager and COO of the Meadowlands. “Not only did Dave make himself accessible at the racetrack, but he made himself accessible on social media. I remember times where he would put a message on Facebook that said, ‘If you want to talk about such-and-such horse race, give me a call or text me.’”

“Dave was a guy who knew an awful lot, and he brought a lot to the table in terms of his handicapping prowess and what he could say about how horses looked, especially in different forums,” said Little. “For instance, he believed in watching every qualifier and he was
determined to get every bit of information from a qualifier that would enable him to make an intelligent selection without having to wait for a horse to tighten up in a real race.

“He always wanted to give anybody information that they didn’t have, or he wanted to impart knowledge that he had that they didn’t have. He wanted to teach them the things he knew, and he wanted to impart it upon them in a way that they would be receptive to hearing it. Not just, ‘I like No. 4 in this upcoming race,’ which is what a lot of handicappers will do.”


In the public eye, Dave Brower’s institutional knowledge and his ambassadorship of the sport all but made him worthy for his induction into Standardbred racing’s Communicators Hall of Fame. But when the cameras were off, he was every bit the same person—and always going the extra mile to elevate everyone around him while maintaining an air of ease.

“We’re fortunate that Dave was like us—a sicko that loves harness racing!” said Prewitt, with a chuckle. “He could have broadcast anything. He was polished, professional—he could have broadcast any sport, anything. We got very lucky he chose harness racing. He made everybody better around him. Me, I have the most non-broadcasting background ever, so going to the Meadowlands was a big jump for me. But working next to him, he put you at ease. He was a close friend and also a mentor in a lot of ways, as well.”

“Whenever you were in a room with media people, Dave was always the best guy in the room,” concurred Little. “He worked hard, he liked his fellow workers, he liked the people who wanted the information. He was an overly friendly guy who was very good at his job. What more can we ask of anybody?”

Prewitt related that his frequent Meadowlands sojourns were like “going to hang out with Dave”:

“He’d pick me up, we’d go to the track, grab food after. The next day, we’d go to qualifiers together, get lunch—unless I was asleep, we were together the whole time I was there.”

Little’s experience working with Brower as the Big M’s on-air “A-team” from 2017 to 2022 was similar:

“I spent every Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m., when we prepped for the show, until midnight for five years. And I’d known him for 25 years prior to that. Dave was a guy who, once in a while, would bring me shrimp and some kind of vinaigrette to the track; sometimes he would pickle vegetables—this was a guy who enjoyed his foodie-ness and shared that joy with me on many an occasion. These are the types of things he would do that people don’t know about. He was a very caring man; he always cared about other people. He always went to bat for others.”


While best known for his work at the Meadowlands, Brower’s work presenting marquee harness racing events expanded westward for a couple boutique meets during the last few years of his career. And despite his last sign-off coming far too soon at age 53, Brower’s legacy lives on through those with whom he held court on air.

“It was fantastic to get Dave out to the (Little Brown) Jug,” said Settlemoir. “Dave stepped into Sam’s old role there and did a great job. Still, to this day, Dave’s commentary was on some of the biggest races in our sport—at the Meadowlands, the Delaware County Fair and Lexington. He was world renowned, and a great person and great handicapper.”

“He was the greatest ambassador,” Prewitt added. “He wasn’t at Delaware that long, same thing with Lexington, but he left such an impact with everybody. No one deserves to be a Hall of Famer more than Dave Brower. It’s just a shame he’s not here to enjoy it himself.” HB


To comment on this story, email us at


364 More posts in Hoof Beats Magazine category
Recommended for you
Wicked Awesome

Owner-breeder David McDuffee reflects on the ‘magical’ life that took him to the Hall of...