Tom Durkin’s voice has changed a bit in the 43 years he’s been calling horse races, but he’ll retire after this week’s swan song in Saratoga showing the same enthusiasm he started with. The same enthusiasm that made him a legend among horse racing fans. As the NY Daily News correctly notes, Durkin provided both the “best and most hilarious” calls the sport has ever known. Durkin studied theater in college and brought the drama to every race he called.
Horse owners helped Durkin with his hilarity, naming horses sometimes elegantly but other times merely as if they hoped to trip up announcers. Among jockeys, Durkin says he most enjoyed watching Angelo Cordero Jr. and Julie Krone ride. Horses he loved most included Cigar and Rachel Alexandra. He called the Triple Crown races for ten years (nine of them for NBC) and a whole lot of Americans have heard his voice, even if they don’t know his name. Proving his contribution to the action, Durkin’s calls have flourished on YouTube long after the races’ outcomes were well known. Despite the long and illustrious career, Durkin is just 63 years old. He calls his final race on Saturday, August 31, at Saratoga.