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Pete Estabrook's Racetrack Bugle Articles and Interviews Page!

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Hear Pete Play the Featured Coach Horn Call

Newspaper Interviews:

Saturday June 23, 2007

Yahoo News (caption)

Bugler Pete Esterbrook of Santa Rosa, California, performs a call to post during the dedication of a life-size bronze sculpture of the famed thoroughbred Seabiscuit at Ridgewood Ranch in Willits, California, June 23, 2007.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Yahoo News (caption)

A life-size bronze sculpture of the legendary racehorse Seabiscuit is shown with the Golden Gate Bridge and racetrack bugler Pete Estabrook in the background during a stop at the vista point near Sausalito, Calif., Tuesday, April 17, 2007. The statue, vintage truck, and van are making a number of ceremonial stops before ending the trip at Ridgewood Ranch, the final resting place of Seabiscuit, in Willits, Calif. on April 18. The tour left Salt Lake City on April 10 and ends with the delivery of the statue in Willits. It has been 55 years since a statue of the horse was at the ranch. The original statue at the ranch was donated to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saragoga Springs, N.Y. Most stops are strongly connected to Seabiscuit and his owner, San Francisco's Charles Howard. view photo

Wednesday, April 22, 2007

Oakland Tribune (excerpt)

During the Seabiscuit foundation tribute to Berg, something remarkable occurred. Pete Estabrook, a bugler on the fair circuit dressed in full racetrack regalia, lifted his long coach horn and played the "Call to Post." When Berg's horses heard that familiar sound for the first time in years, they bolted as a group across the large corral in the frantic manner of a herd of wild mustangs.

PAM BERG is a rescuer of broken-down racehorses who has nursed them back to health and an active life at her Glen Ellen ranch in Sonoma County.

Monday, April 16, 2007

San Francisco Chronicle (excerpt)

Peter Estabrook, the guy in the red jacket who blows the bugle, gazed at the sculpture and said he wished he could call Seabiscuit to the post with his horn, just once. Instead, he called Attack Force, who didn't attack, and Come on Margaret, who didn't come on. Both lost.

"Seabiscuit sure had spirit,'' Estabrook said. "He was a small horse with a huge heart.'

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Marin Independent Journal (caption)

Pete Estabrook, a racetrack bugler for 21 years, played a "First Call' during Tuesday's ceremony, which united a statue of legendary racehorse Seabiscuit with the sculpture of Tiburon's own Blackie at Blackie's Pasture. view photo

Sunday, August 18, 2002

Ferndale Times Standard

A Day at the Races

by Mike Morrow

Historically, the horn blows at midnight, though it will blow for the last time at 6:10 or so tonight at the Humboldt County Fair. That's when bugler Peter Estabrook will sound "Call to Post" to begin the processional for the 10th race of the day, and final race of the season. The Music Man teaches at Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State when he is not trumpeting throughout the California fair circuit. He says his first year in Ferndale has been everything he expected-and more "I wanted to come here because everyone told me this was one of the nicest places around," said Estabrook. "I've been a bugler for 16 years, and these past two weeks have been great fun. I'd like to be back next year."

Monday August 5, 2002

Press Democrat

by Dewey Forget
For 16 years Peter Estabrook has been blowing his own horn at the Sonoma county Fair. Estabrook is the track bugler. Estabrook, 36 said that as a child he came to the track with his grandfather and would always notice the bugler. Now Estabrook, who teaches music and jazz at Sonoma State and SRJC, is the fair circuit's main man with a horn. He will be doing the call at Ferndale after Santa Rosa closes today. He will finish his gig at Sacramento State Fair.

Sacramento Bee

Saturday August 24, 2002

Fair Faces: Pete Estabrook

Ponies can't run 'til he toots

Horses and riders at the State Fair racetrack know it's time to get serious when bugler Pete Estabrook puts his post horn to his lips. Pete Estabrook knows exactly what is needed to put on a first-class horse race. There are, of course, horses and riders, but beond that the thing that makes it all official and truly top-drawer, high-society event is a track bugler.
Meet Mr. Estabrook. He is the tall, slim guy with the top hat ant the red coat, riding breeches and boots whom strides calmly into the winner's circle area of the State Fair racetrack and calls the horses to the post for each race. The horn he plays is not a bugle, but rather a post horn-just a straight 4-foot tube with a mouthpiece on one end and a bell on the other. The tune is actually a military bugle call used by cavalry, "First Call," but it's the very ditty everyone expects the bugler to use at the horse races.
Before each race Estabrook plays the tune twice, triple-tonguing the fast parts in a dazzling performance, then adds another bugle solo before retiring to await the next race. "I always play another bugle call or maybe part of a march in addition to the first call. I've got enough bugle music I could go on for six days without repeating," he said. Estabrook, 36, takes the summer off to play the fair race circuit, starting in Stockton, then Pleasaton, Vallejo, Santa Rosa and Ferndale before winding up at the State Fair. "It's a great summer job and a break from teaching the trumpet," he said.
-By Walt Wiley

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Contra Costa Times

Musician makes the trek daily from Santa Rosa to the Alameda County Fair racetrack

by Chris Metinko (times staff writer)

PLEASANTON-the familiar sound of 'First Call' floated out over the Alameda county Fair for the first time this year Wednesday. And while the strains may be well known to bettors and horse racing aficionados, no one in attendance knows the military there better than Pete Estabrook. The 36-year-old Santa Rosa resident has played the post parade music for 16 years at fairs around the state. Now, in the second year in Pleasanton, he makes the drive down every day from his North Bay home. "I like the fair here," said the music teacher at Sonoma State University in Rohnert park and jazz lover. "It's always fun to go to the track." Estabrook got into the coach horn gig when he was 20. Several of his teachers had played bugle at the nearby fairs when they finally decided to hand the job down to their student. "I had several teachers that did it. There was kind of a lineage." he said, "They gave it to me." Now, 16 years after beginning, he has come full circle. This year will mark the first time he plays at all the major fairs in the northern part of the state. He already has done Stockton and now Pleasanton, and later this summer he will travel to Vallejo, his hometown of Santa Rosa and Ferndale before finishing up at the State Fair in Sacramento. "I'm looking forward to it. I enjoy coming out to them." said Estabrook, who went to races at fairs as a kid to watch the bugler. "It's a nice way to spend an afternoon." While it may be a fun way to spend an afternoon, exactly how lucrative is the blowing of the horn? "It's enough for me to keep doing it." he said with a smile. However, he does supplement his summer income by teaching music classes at Sonoma State, along with private lessons. "I'll be doing that tonight," said Estabrook, who also plays in various bands around the North Bay. Between races, he sneaks off behind the racing tote board to "practice," although not always the horseracing theme he blasts as least 10 times a day. "I practice different stuff back there. The trumpet takes quite a bit to maintain. You can always practice."

Friday, June 24,1994

The Stockton Record


Musician happy to play his tunes at the Fair

"He's been told it's called Boots and Saddles.

lt would be an appropriate moniker for the tune that announces the start of each horserace. But the brief song is just a part of the repertoire during the San Joaquin County Fairs 12-day horse-racing meet. "I probably have 125 different songs that I use for this" Estabrook said. "I try to learn new tunes and incorporate them into the program. Each fair is different, but here I can do as much or as little as I want." Estabrook trumpets the arrival of the horses for each race, then plays a song of his choice before -the animals reach the track in front of his location. 'I stop by the time they're behind me," Estabook said. 'I don't want to scare them, and the announcer has announcements to make." Though he knows a musician who works at tracks in Southern California who counts how many notes he plays a day and keeps track of how many horseraces he's seen in his career, Estabrook doesn't worry about such statistics. He never bets on the races and pays only passing interest in them. For him, the music's the thing. It has been since he was 9 years old and was given the opportunity to play a musical instrument at his school. He chose a trumpet and by the time he was in high school, It was the only thing of interest to him. He attended the Berklee School of Music in Boston and the California Institute of Arts in Valencia after attending Santa Rosa Junior College. When not performing at Northern California fairs-Santa Rosa, Vallejo and Sacramento in addition to San Jouaquin-Estabrook plays with a polka band and with a group that plays big band music. During the school year, he lives in the Valencia area giving private lessons and substituting in public Schools. But come summer, he heads north to play the fairs and different jobs as well as occasional weddings and other gigs. This is his fourth appearance in Stockton. "I started in Santa Rosa," Estabrook said. "There was a group of guys who did It and they were all my teaches. When they stopped, they gave the job to me." He spent about $1,000 for the trumpet and the traditional hunter's garb that includes a red wool jacket, ascot and riding boots. The reception isn't what it is at other jobs. "It's either small or nothing," he said. "There are never any 'boos'. I think it’s a question of sound. They can't hear depending on where they are." But the smattering of applause after each session let's him know some are listening.

Estabrook has plenty of free time as track trumpeter at Solano fair

By Brad Stanhope

Daily Republic

VALLEJO - Never afraid to toot his own horn, Pete Estabrook admits he has a great job. "It’s nice to be working as a musician," he said. "This is steady and the pay is good. You have a lot of time off." The 29-year old Estabrook plays the herald trumpet before each horse race at the Solano County Fair. The Vallejo event is one or four fair programs the Santa Rosa based musician plays. It is about a minute of music followed by a half-hour of waiting. "I just play and wait," he said. " I read and play chess (with the steward’s aide). I usually go through a couple of books a fair." Estabrook grew up in Santa Rosa, watching many of his trumpet teachers play at the Sonoma County Fair. He would wait near the infield and watch them through the slats in the fence. Nine years ago, he took over at Solano and Sonoma. "It was passed around," he said. "The last one decided he didn’t want to do it anymore, so I took it." Within a few years, Estabrook added the California State Fair in Sacramento and San Joaquin County Fair in Stockton. Everyday as the post parade begins before a dozen or so races, Estabrook walks out on the track and plays "Call to Post" followed by a snippet of another tune. " I can almost make it through a whole meet without repeating’" he said. "Some guys play the same tunes, but I try to learn other ones every meet." He said the fan favorites are ‘Tequila, Saints, My Old Kentucky Home." While Playing, Estabrook is dressed in formal wear-an English riding outfit, a custom made jacket and riding helmet. He said he rarely gets nervous while performing. The worst thing that happens is when other people try to make him laugh-making it tough to play. "Sometimes these guys (his co-workers on the infield) try to get me to laugh," he said. "If that happens, I have to stand there until I’m done, there’s nothing else I can do." Estabrook, who doesn’t bet the races, hopes to break into other tracks and make it a full time job, but it is tough going. "I've tried to do Bay Meadows or Golden Gate Fields and I've gotten within inches of getting them," he said. "But it hasn't panned out." Each fall, Estabrook travels South to work as a private music instructor and substitute teacher in the public schools. He turned down a position at Albuquerque Downs in New Mexico because the pay was too low. Ideally, Estabrook would land the Golden Gate Fields job and keep his fair circuit jobs which would give him about eight months of horse racing and four months playing polka music with the Al Gruber Band, which perform all over the Bay Area and has recorded an album. For now, Estabrook will continue to play "Call to Post," at the Fair, play chess, read books and prepare his next number.

Racetrack Bugler Pete Estabrook plays familiar tune at county fair

Steve Helmer

Press Sports Editor

STOCKTON - Pete Estabrook carefully takes his cardinal red suit coat out of a garment bag, puts it on and slowly walks out to the middle of the racetrack with his trumpet. He then spends the next minute playing the horserace anthem, "Boots and Saddles," from three different Positions (90-degrees to the right, center-face, and 90-degrees to the left) to summon the horses and jockeys to the track. After his minute in the spotlight is up, Estabrook tips his hat, slowly leaves the track, puts his cardinal jacket back in the garment bag and sits down in an umbrella-shaded chair until the next race is ready to begin. And the wait between races is long outlasting Estabrook's center-stage performance 20-1. But, the racetrack bugler doesn't mind the wait. In fact, be quite enjoys playing the tune 13 times a day and relaxing in his sun-shaded chair between performances. "It's good money for what you have to do, which is not much," the 28-year-old Estabrook said. Estabrook's current bugler stint is at the San Joaquin County Fair. He made his first of 12 appearances at the Stockton racetrack on Tuesday. And he will be out there for every day of racing, through June 26. The musician, who spends half the year in Los Angeles and the other half in Santa Rosa, has been a racetrack bugler for eight years. During the winter, he is substitute teacher and also gives private music lessons in L.A. And, during the summer, he's a racetrack bugler, among other things. Estabrook works the tracks at the San Joaquin, Sacramento, Vallejo and Santa Rosa county fairs. He enjoys this because it's an easy job and it leaves his evenings free to play other gigs. I still work at nights and weekends," said Estabrook, who began playing the trumpet when he was nine. Estabrook plays music ranging from jazz to big band to polka on his trumpet. Later this summer, he will go into the studio with the Al Gruber Band and record a polka album. But Estabrook's life ambition is to have his own album. He’d also like to travel to Europe and Japan," he added. I'm also searching for a college teaching job right now, but I haven't had success Yet." Estabrook is qualified for such a job, though. He received his bachelor's degree from the Berkeley College of Music in Boston and his master's degree in jazz from the California Institute of Arts in Valencia. The reason he wants to stick with the teaching field is so his summers will be free to bugle at county fairs. "It's neat," he said. "It keeps life interesting. I like to come here during the summer. According to Pete, interesting things happen to him all the time at such fairs. Various people try to get him to laugh while he's playing "Boots and saddles." "At this one race in Sacramento, this mom and her kid put half lemons in their mouth and sucked them while I played," he recalled. "I closed my eyes so I wouldn't mess up,"

Solano Fair Racing

Horn Blowin’ for the horses

Tradition continues in Vallejo


Reporter Correspondent

Pete Estabrook turns a lot of heads without saying a word. In fact, when he works, he never speaks. He lets his trumpet do the talking. For the past two years, Estabrook has been the bugler at the Solano County Fair at the Vallejo Fairgrounds. His "Call to Post" lifts many a head from a racing program and up to the track. "This is a great summer job," said Estabrook, who actually plays the trumpet instead of a bugle because a good bugle is unavailable. "As long as I go to school I plan to do this for a while," he said. Estabrook recently graduated from the Berkelee College of Music in Boston with a degree in professional music. He has since been accepted into the master's program at the Cal Institute of Arts in Valencia. With all that schooling, the "Call to Post"' has become "like sneezing," he says. But the call is just the beginning of his post-race ritual. After the "Call to Post," Estabrook begins a sartorial march from the middle of the track to the far edge near the fans. Clad in tan britches, knee-high black riding boots, bright white shirt and scarf, red riding jacket and sporting a sparkling silver trumpet, Estabrook marches and makes a snappy 180 degree turn to face the horses as they pass. That's mainly all Estabrook sees of the horses, however. He admits he only knows the sport "moderately," and can usually be found reading a book as the horses are charging down the stretch. "Most people are nice here, but they think I know the horses," Estabrook said. "They think I can tell them who to bet - but I can't." Estabrook had the job handed down to him by Dan Goulart, the band director at Santa Rosa Junior College where Estabrook went to school. The bugler job at Vallejo has been handed down over the years at the Junior College. Estabrook didn't even have to apply for the job. Instead he just received a phone call form Goulart one day and the job was his. "Once the job is yours, you are supposed to hold on to it for a long time," Estabrook said. For Estabrook, that should be easy - as long as he continues to play for the horses instead of betting on them.

Vallejo Times-Herald

Friday, July 22, 1988

The way Pete Estabrook looks at it, he’s simply at one stage of a career he hopes will take him to bigger and better things. "A guy who did it here, Santa Rosa and Fresno is now a member of the house orchestra at Harrah's and making $600 to $900 a week," said Estabrook. "I could dig doing that, but what I'd like is a job on a cruise ship." Working in a casino ocean liner might lead to Estabrook's being lost in the crowd. But in his current position, there's no mistaking him when he goes to work. Hundreds turn their heads when he starts to earn his money. Little children can be seen dancing to the always uplifting sound and even those who have heard it thousands of times before often begin humming the familiar tune. Estabrook is the trumpeter at the Solano County Fair racetrack. "I'm part of the show, with the uniform and the whole thing," said the 22-year-old Santa Rosa resident. "But I don't think about it too much. I'd probably get freaked if I thought about all the people watching me. And there is no hiding when you're in the middle of the track dressed in a bright red coat and knee-high boots with a trumpet in your hand. Make a mistake and everybody knows. "I made it through the first five days without one, but I've made some since then," said Estabrook whose miscues come in the form of sour notes and missed beats. "It goes in a cycle. When you play every day, you reach a fatigue level and it affects the muscles in your face. ‘Playing everyday they’re bound to happen. I just try and pass it by. I close my eyes because there are a lot of people along the fence yelling at me or trying to get my attention." More on the norm, however, is Estabrook’s bellowing out a familiar whimsical tune that cam make even the coldhearted of bettors forget their woes. "There are some crowd pleasers. "The Mexican Hat Dance’ always gets a reaction and so does ‘La Bamba.’ I get requests too. One day last week I played ‘Happy Birthday’ 3 times. Estabrook is in his second year on the fair circuit, having inherited the Vallejo and Santa Rosa Fairs from a former music teacher Dan Goulart. "He decided he got bored and gave it to me." said Estabrook. Boredom can easily be associated with the job. Pinched between a one hour commute to and from Santa Rosa is almost 6 hours of racing. Estabrook’s time in the spotlight? "A friend and I figured it out, I’m on the track for 13 minutes a day." Not bad considering he gets $100 a day for his time. But there is the matter of the other five hours and 47 minutes. "I don't really get bored because I read a lot. On a hot day, I'll take a walk up and down the stands or get something to drink. It gets hot wearing this. Last weekend it was horrible, I got terribly sick." But he has no intention of making a career out of playing Northern California fairs. "I just got accepted to the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, I'm going down there in January to work on my master's degree. I'm playing with a polka band in Sonoma and did some backup work with another band, just doing some different things. I'll see how It goes." Until then, he'll continue to play the songs that make the whole world bet.