The New York Racing Association has announced the successor to its legendary race caller, who is retiring after 43 years in the industry.
Legendary track announcer Tom Durkin is retiring at the end of this summer’s Saratoga meet. A longtime caller for NBC Sports, Durkin has worked for the New York Racing Association at Saratoga, Belmont and Aqueduct since 1990. At a press conference at Saratoga Race Course Wednesday morning, NYRA President and CEO Chris Kay announced Durkin’s successor.
“We’ve been privileged to have Tom Durkin, one of the great voices in our sport, calling our races for more than two decades. With the addition of Larry Collmus, we have another,” said Kay.
47-year-old Collmus will leave his current position at Churchill Downs for the New York racing circuit starting in April 2015. Collmus has recently served as the voice of the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup for NBC Sports.
Collmus also calls races during the winter at Gulfstream Park in Florida. He will continue that role in addition to calling in New York from April to October. John Imbriale (im-bree-al), a longtime NYRA voice, will work at Belmont and Aqueduct as well.
Collmus, who called his first race at Bowie Race Course at age 18, said coming to Saratoga has long been his dream.
“Growing up as a kid that loved the game, to be the guy that’s going to be calling the races especially here at Saratoga is an extremely special thing for me,” said Collmus.”This is the Mecca of horseracing and Belmont Park has races that are unlike any other place as well. Just championship quality racing. And the Big A is just terrific as well, and I’m looking forward to calling the Wood Memorial and the races at Aqueduct.”
Collmus thanked Durkin for his long and inspirational career.
“And I want to thank him as a fan, because I thought his calls just brought the excitement of this game to a new level, and I want to thank him as a race caller, because I think we all got better because of how great his calls were, so salute to Tom.”
Kay said Collmus was chosen from the pool of applicants for his energy and accuracy. Kay said the position was highly sought after, with even some impromptu auditions coming from fans.
“I’m walking around and they say ‘Chris! Chris, I’d like to be your next race caller!’and then they’d go into it. And it was amazing. So it was a flattering moment in one way because it tells you how many people coveted this job, and everybody that did come up to us or talk to us, or everybody that we interviewed all showed almost reverence in their respect for Tom, and for what this position means for horse racing in America,” said Kay.
NYRA will honor Durkin after he calls his last race at Saratoga on August 31st.