Bugler Les Kepics
Meet the man hitting the high notes at Del Mar
Posted on July 12, 2019
The turnstile is cranking. The margaritas are shaking. And the track isn’t the track until that B-flat trumpet sounds every afternoon, creating a multisensory experience that can only be Del Mar.
Bugler Les Kepics has become part of the historical fabric of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club as it celebrates 80 years since Bing Crosby refined the sport, and CEO Joe Harper elevated it into a Southern California ritual. For 35 years, Kepics has played the First Call to Post, and so much more. To the amusement of kids, he mimics the sounds of horses, elephants, and of course there’s the impromptu birthday tunes.
And for the so-called adults? “It’s kind of like ‘stump the bugler.’ Unless it’s ‘Freebird,’ which can’t be played on this instrument, I can do it,” laughs Kepics. “Intermingling with patrons is part of the experience.”
The professional musician and revered instructor is grooming scores of future bugling stars, many of whom visit the track for his indelible call (and impossible stumps). This year, Kepics is in good company with the return of longtime announcer Trevor Denman, who dropped the mic back in 1984.
The 2019 racing season kicks off on July 17. And away they go… Gillian Flynn
Photography by Vincent Knakal