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    Travis Stone was maybe six years old when his parents bought a new house in Schroon Lake, New York. His mother let him draw horse tracks all over the floor before carpet was installed, and Stone pretended Matchbox cars and marbles were Thoroughbreds. His dad would take him an hour south to Saratoga Race Course. “I never went to the beach,” Stone says. “I always went to the track.” In the stands at Saratoga, Stone mumbled race calls. “A guy sitting next to us once made a comment to my dad: ‘Oh, this is what your son wants to do, huh?’” Stone says.

    In college, Stone got in touch with announcer Larry Collmus at Suffolk Downs in Boston, and Collmus (who now calls the Derby for NBC) invited him into the booth to call his first race. Stone became the track announcer at Louisiana Downs in 2006 after graduating. He landed the job at Churchill Downs in 2015.

    Stone memorizes horses by each owner’s distinct jockey silk color. Ten minutes before each race (farther out for Derby), Stone scribbles silk colors on his program as a “security blanket,” in case he has a brain freeze during a call and needs to glance down from his binoculars. Some track announcers use colored pencils or crayons. Stone prefers markers. “Yep,” he says, “Crayola.”

    This originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of Louisville Magazine under the headline "Good Call." To subscribe to Louisville Magazineclick here. To find us on newsstands, click here.

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