Collmus replaces Mark Johnson, the British voice chosen in an “American Idol-esque” search Churchill Downs held in 2009 after track announcer Luke Kruytbosch’s untimely death at the age of 47. Track spokesperson, John Asher, said by phone that the split was amicable and that the track had once again changed its focus, noting that when Johnson was hired five years ago an emphasis had been made to include more race commentary which Johnson excelled at. The track has decided to change its focus to a more traditional announcer role and are excited to have Collmus and expects him to play a more visable role in the community.
"We are very pleased to welcome Larry Collmus to Churchill Downs, where he will take his place on the brief, but very distinguished and accomplished, roster of announcers that have served as the voice of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks and an ambassador for our historic track in a community and region that loves racing like no other," Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery said. "Larry long ago ascended to the highest ranks of his profession and has developed a nationwide following through his work during the past three years as part of the NBC Sports broadcast team for the Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown. We are confident that racing fans in Louisville, the state of Kentucky and throughout North America will embrace Larry in his new role as the voice of Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby, and that he will love living in a city and state that mean so much to our industry's tradition and future.
"As Churchill Downs bids farewell to Mark Johnson, we wish him the very best after five good years in the announcer's booth. He has witnessed and described some fantastic moments at our track, and we know that many thrills await him in future endeavors at tracks in Britain, the United States and around the world. His knowledge of racing and dedication to his craft have made Mark one of our sport's premier commentators, and we will undoubtedly be hearing his voice as an important part of great racing meets at venues throughout the world for many years to come."
Collmus becomes only the third announcer to provide both the on-track and network televised calls for the Kentucky Derby. Legendary caller Chic Anderson, who called Churchill Downs’ races from 1961 to 1977, and Churchill Downs oddsmaker Mike Battaglia, who called the races from 1978 to 1996, are the others.
Collmus will continue his duties with NBC Sports’ Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup broadcasts and will return to Gulfstream Park for its winter meet.
Photos: Churchill Downs
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