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As a trumpeter for the Preakness and Belmont, Anne Arundel teacher has become a part of both

Trumpeter Bethann Dixon performs the "call to post" to start a race at the 143rd Preakness. (Scott Dance/Baltimore Sun)

About seven years ago, Bethann Dixon was attending Preakness as a fan of horse racing when she got a chance to meet one of the trumpeters whose “call to post” tune marks the start of each race.

A music teacher at Meade Middle School, she wanted to compliment the man, Sam Grossman, on his tone and ask him to speak to her students about “lifelong musicianship.” Grossman is the official bugler of the New York Racing Association.

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They connected on Facebook, and he saw pictures of her in full riding habit, wearing a bright red jacket she dons to hunt with horses and hounds. So he asked her to wear it and bring her trumpet to play “America the Beautiful” at the Belmont Stakes in New York, the third jewel in the Triple Crown.

Bugler Bethann Dixon, a music teacher at Meade Middle School, pauses to take a selfie in the corner of the winner's circle during the 143rd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course.
Bugler Bethann Dixon, a music teacher at Meade Middle School, pauses to take a selfie in the corner of the winner's circle during the 143rd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

NBC broadcasters noticed, excited by a rare woman bugler. “They loved it,” she recalls. So they asked her to join in the call to post — the recognizable few notes that mark the start of each race.

She has played them at every Preakness and Belmont ever since — as well as at the Maryland Million at Laurel Park and the Travers at Saratoga in upstate New York.

“It's a good time,” she said. “It kind of combines my love of riding and horses with my profession.”

Though she wasn't enjoying the on-and-off rain Saturday, she said she was excited for the Stakes race, and looking ahead to the Belmont, where she'll play again.

“I'm hoping Justified takes this one so we have a contender,” she said. “Otherwise the Belmont is just another million-dollar race.”

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