It was just six months ago that Churchill Downs announced that veteran race caller Larry Collmus would replace Mark Johnson as the track announcer for Churchill Downs. The news brought excitement and speculation as to why Johnson was leaving and who would replace Collmus in his post at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. There was a similar feel in the air today when the New York Racing Association (NYRA) announced at a press conference that Collmus was leaving Churchill Downs and would replace the legendary voice of New York racing, Tom Durkin, as the track announcer for the NYRA circuit.
"I am so excited and honored to become the next voice of New York racing," said Collmus. "The racing in New York is second to none - Belmont Park has such a rich history of championship racing and Saratoga has the best racing in the world and an atmosphere unlike any another place. I have some enormous shoes to fill as Tom Durkin raised the bar of our profession very high over the course of his brilliant career with The New York Racing Association."
Collmus, 47, will continue to call the races at Churchill Downs through its September meet, which runs Sept. 5 through Sept.28, and its fall meet, which runs Oct. 26 through Nov. 30. He’ll take the reins in the final month of Aqueduct Racetrack’s spring meet in April 2015 and will call the Belmont Park spring and fall meets and the Saratoga Race Course’s boutique summer meet. He’ll continue to call Gulfstream Park’s (in Hallandale, Fla.) winter meet and NBC’s broadcasts of the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup.
Collmus, who has called the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup for NBC Sports’ TV broadcasts since 2009, has been the track announcer at various race tracks across the country for nearly 30 years. He will inherit the call as NYRA’s track announcer from the retiring Tom Durkin, who closes a 43-year career as a race caller on Aug. 30.
"I'd like to thank everyone at Churchill Downs who treated me very well during my brief time there," Collmus added. "I am trading one dream job for another. I'm also very happy that The New York Racing Association is also giving me the opportunity to continue my work at NBC and to call the winter at Gulfstream."
Although no official press release has been issued from Churchill Downs, Darren Rogers, Senior Director of Communications & Media Services at Churchill Downs took to Twitter after the announcement to congratulate Collmus and ease race fans’ concerns. “Our search for Larry Collmus’ successor is already underway. Many talented race callers with wide range of talent & individual style,” Rogers tweeted.
Photo: Churchill Downs