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Arlington Park picks new bugler
By Sheila Ahern | Daily Herald Staff

Jean Laurenz, who grew up in Mount Prospect, is the new bugler at Arlington Park.


Photo courtesy Arlington Park

Jean Laurenz, who grew up in Mount Prospect, is the new bugler at Arlington Park.


photo courtesy Arlington Park

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Published: 7/22/2008 12:20 PM

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When trumpet player Jean Laurenz is offered a high-profile gig, she takes it.

This summer, she played in a Texas orchestra. Last summer, she played with Kanye West at the House of Blues in Chicago. She's played at more weddings than she can count.

Her newest job: bugler at Arlington Park racetrack. She starts immediately and will play throughout the rest of the season, which ends on Sept. 21.

Laurenz replaces Bonnie Brown who made history in 2003 when she was hired as the first female bugler to perform at a major thoroughbred track. Brown will return to Arlington for the Arlington Million on Aug. 9.

Before Brown, Joe Kelly was the track's bugler from 1981 through 2002.

"This is one of the coolest jobs out there and the outfit is so cute," said Laurenz, who grew up in Mount Prospect and graduated from Prospect High School.

Laurenz, 21, took up the trumpet about 10 years ago and never really put it down. Today she studies choral music education at Northwestern University.

Laurenz will play "Call to Start" about 10 minutes before every race wearing a black top hat, white riding pants and a red coat. She'll belt out the tune four times while horses flank around her and head to the starting gate. Laurenz will also interact with racing fans and make television appearances.

"I grew up close to the track and have made a few bets, but I've never won anything," she said. "I just love horses and being around them."

Three other buglers auditioned for the job in person and several others submitted tapes. Track officials, including President Roy Arnold, picked Laurenz as the winner.