Tom Durkin, who
has been the NYRA track announcer since 1990, announced today that he will call
his last race at Saratoga Race Course on August 31. Durkin has been announcing
races for the past 43 years. During his illustrious career Durkin he was also the
announcer for the Breeders’ Cup and the Triple Crown.
"I want to
thank all of the fans that have been so supportive over the years, my
colleagues at NYRA and countless others who have helped me along over four
decades," said Durkin, 63. "I thought that 24 years here at NYRA was
enough and that 25 might have been too many. It has been an honor and a
privilege to have been given the best seat in the house to some of the greatest
moments in modern racing history."
Born in Chicago,
Durkin studied theatre at St. Norbert College and began calling races at county
fairs in Wisconsin in the summer of 1971. In 1975, he moved on to a string of
small tracks including Cahokia Downs, Balmoral Race Course, Quad City
Downs and Miles Park before landing the job at famed Hialeah Race Course in
1981. Three years later, he was hired as the announcer for the annual Breeders'
Cup, a job he held until 2005, and gained further fame calling the Triple Crown
for a decade beginning in 2001.
Durkin is one of the greatest race-callers in history, and we are fortunate to
have had him with us here in New York for so many years," said NYRA
President and CEO Chris Kay. "The way Tom uses his voice to build to a
crescendo is unparalleled, and the words he uses to describe races are pure
magic. We are disappointed to see such a storied career finally come to a
close, but we are grateful to have had the opportunity to enjoy his
race-calling for so long. We wish him all the best in the next chapter of his
Some of Durkin's
most memorable calls have come on the NYRA circuit of Aqueduct Racetrack,
Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. In 2007, he captured Rags to Riches'
historic victory in the Belmont Stakes thusly:
"And at the top of the stretch, a filly is in front at
But Curlin is
right there with her! These two, in a battle of the sexes in the Belmont Stakes!
It is Curlin on the inside! Rags to Riches on
the outside! A desperate finish! Rags to Riches and Curlin! They're coming down
to the wire! It's going to be very close! And it's going to be...A FILLY IN THE
BELMONT! Rags to Riches has beaten Curlin and a hundred years of Belmont
the 1998 Belmont Stakes, Durkin brought out every ounce of drama to the nail-biting
finish of Real Quiet's failed bid for the Triple Crown:
they come to the final sixteenth, Kent Desormeaux imploring Real Quiet to hold
on! Victory Gallop, a final surge! It's going to be very close! Here's the
wire! ... [pause] ... IT'S TOO CLOSE TO CALL! Was it Real Quiet or was it
Victory Gallop? A picture is worth a thousand words. This photo is worth FIVE
MILLION DOLLARS. OH, NO! History in the waiting, on hold, till we get that
call of the 1995 Breeders’ Cup Classic, which was won by Cigar, is what I consider
to be one of the greatest race calls of all time. Every time I hear the final
yards of the call I get the chills:
“And here he is: The
unconquerable, invincible, unbeatable Cigar!”
"It's been exciting," said Durkin of his tenure at NYRA. "And just as importantly, it's been fun."