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BROADCASTING'S SEWARD A FRIEND IN STEED.

Byline: Kevin Modesti Daily News Staff Writer

On the day Sunday Silence won the 1989 Kentucky Derby, Bill Seward drove through Louisville in such a hurry, he didn't stay to watch the race.

He was on his way to California from Concord, N.H., where the CBS affiliate for which he was sports director had just folded. Before announcing that more than 200 people were out of jobs, the station manager told Seward, "This is almost as sad a day as when I had to put my dog to sleep."

With a send-off like that, it's understandable that Seward, a Sherman Oaks native, was eager to get home.

Still, he regrets missing his best chance to attend a Derby.

"If you said, 'You could cover the NBA Finals, or the Super Bowl, or any of the other big events for broadcasters . . . I think the Kentucky Derby would be a blast," says Seward, a sports anchor for KNX-AM (1070) and, occasionally, Channel 2. "If I had to cover one thing, there's no doubt in my mind, it would be horse racing. It's a great sport."

Seward, 37, who will co-host this afternoon's "Santa Anita Today" cablecast of the San Antonio Handicap (on tape at 6:30 p.m., Prime Sports), is a rarity among Los Angeles sportscasters: He not only is an unabashed Friend of Horse Racing, he is also a participant in the sport, having co-owned about a dozen thoroughbreds in the past seven years.

Two of them are getting ready for races at Santa Anita next week - Bet a Bic, coming off a third-place finish in a $16,000 claiming race, and Queen Helmsley, an untried filly. Both are trained by Jack Carava.

Seward is the guy who, when he's delivering the scores on KNX, always makes sure to squeeze the local stakes results into his 60-second to 2-1/2-minute broadcasts.

"I think I'm giving racing its due," he says, pointing out that daily racing attendance compares favorably with, say, a Lakers sellout of 17,505. "I'd like to lead the sports (report) with it, but that probably wouldn't last very long."

Seward's enthusiasm for the races is evident when he hosts Santa Anita's Friday-night shows on Channel 56, and in showcases like today's, one of 11 weekend stakes to be shown on Prime Sports cable during the Santa Anita meet. He'll co-host the coverage with Kurt Hoover. Jeff Siegel will provide analysis and Trevor Denman will call the action.

"I don't put myself out there as any expert, that's for sure, but I'm aware of the sport from a number of different levels," says Seward, who attended his first races when he was a freshman at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks. "I've been the kid who's driving out to Santa Anita in a '65 Mustang with $12 in his pocket, saying, 'I'm going to hit the double!' I've also been in the winner's circle."

Since he was a kid, watching Saturday races on Channel 2 shows hosted by Gil Stratton, Seward has watched racing TV coverage get swallowed up by other sports. A big reason is that many sportscasters are ex-athletes and few of the rest follow racing.

Actually, Seward started out in the sports mainstream, playing the line for the Notre Dame High football team, and serving as an assistant coach at Notre Dame and head coach at St. Bernard High School in Playa del Rey from 1982 to 1984. He was the Evening Outlook coach of the year in 1982.

He coached while attending Loyola Marymount. He also started on his broadcasting career by calling Lions basketball and baseball on the radio.

"You can only watch so much (football) film before your eyes fall out," Seward said of his career choice.

He worked on the air in Eureka, Oxnard and Concord, and it was between that job and joining KNX that Seward indulged his love of the racetrack by working with trainer Yves Seguin at Del Mar. He got his first victory as an owner two days after the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

"Bill adds a tremendous amount," said Amy Zimmerman, executive producer and director of "Santa Anita Today." "Not only is he a tremendous broadcaster, but he knows the game intimately."

As an owner or a broadcaster, maybe there's a Derby in his future.

Notes: Richard Mandella trains the favorites for today's $300,000 San Antonio Handicap (Soul of the Matter, as well as Dare and Go) and Sunday's $500,000 Strub Stakes (Afternoon Deelites). The San Antonio drew 10 horses, the Strub nine after NYRA Mile winner Flying Chevron got sick and didn't enter. Also Sunday: the $100,000 Santa Catalina, including some leading 3-year-olds, and the $200,000 Palos Verdes sprint.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 3, 1996
Words:793
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