From the Apron with Stephen Bardsley: Bugler Bethann Dixon


If you are a reader of “From the Apron”, you know that the stories that interest me are the ones about, the Fastest, or the First, the Only, etc. With the 142nd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Racecourse just days away, I want to introduce you to Bethann Dixon.

I first met Bethann at the 2015 Maryland Million at Laurel Park. As I walked around taking photos of the jocks and horses, I also took one of her playing the Call to Post before one of the races. I love the tradition of the Call to Post, with the buglers in their black and red tuxedos (she alternated between races), hats, white pants, shiny boots, and shinier horns. Bethann complements all of those elements with an infectious smile!  When she finished playing, and walked from Winners’ Circle onto the apron, I introduced myself. After pleasant conversation with her and her fellow bugler, we had a photo taken of the two of us together.

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Later at home, as I went through my photos to start a drawing, I decided to draw Bethann. I loved the detail and reflection of her horn, along with the tuxedo and hat. I always research my drawing subjects, and as I started reading about Bethann, I couldn’t believe it! Before Bethann, a local middle school music teacher, there had never been a woman bugler at a Triple Crown race. She became the first in June of 2013 when she played at the 145th Belmont Stakes. She followed it up the following year in May of 2014 at the 139th Preakness Stakes.  She has played both of those races since.

During the last year, I have seen Bethann several times. We were at the Maryland Million Gala together, as my drawing of her was used as the cover art for the event program. I also saw her during the summer as she and Sam the Bugler/NYRA (Sam Grossman) played call to post at the Travers Stakes in Saratoga.

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Bethann is also an avid horsewoman, and rides with the Goshen Hounds. In November, she invited my son Jacob and I to their opening meet. On a clear but crisp fall morning, after a light breakfast and the Blessing of the Hounds, Bethann, this time in a tweed riding jacket played Call to Post before mounting up and riding with the First Field.  That event was amazing!

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The story of Bethann Dixon is exactly what “From the Apron” is about. If you look around while at the races, there are some neat people, sights and stories around you! You might see something historic, and you might just make a good friend!


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