If you’ve watched a horse race in the past 15 years, you’ve likely heard the voice of Tom Durkin. The legendary track announcer is one of the most recognizable voices in sports and is responsible for some of the more famous calls in horse racing history. Who could forget ARRRR???
Durkin was the voice of the Triple Crown for NBC from 2001-2010 and had multiple opportunities to call a Triple Crown winner including Smarty Jones in 2004…
Today’s Belmont Stakes represents his last chance to call history as he’s retiring from his announcing duties later this summer.
Between his work for NBC Sports calling Triple Crown races from 2001-2010 and his job as the track announcer at Belmont Park, Durkin has seen 7 horses try and fail to win the Triple Crown. California Chrome represents the 8th and final chance to see one of the longest and most infamous streaks in sports finally broken.
The New York Times chronicled Durkin’s last Triple Crown race, and how he is dealing with his long-noted battles with anxiety (which led him to step away from his national duties with NBC) in the lead-up to the race:
He knows better than most how cruel or kind the racing gods can be. This is Durkin’s last Belmont Stakes; he will retire in August after the Saratoga meet.
“I’m 0 for 7 with a scratch,” he said of the eight previous Triple Crown bids he provided the soundtrack for since becoming the signature voice of New York racing in 1990.
Now, the trick for Durkin, 63, is not to be too consumed with anxiety over his ninth chance to be the narrator of thoroughbred racing’s most treasured achievement. It is why he returned to the hypnotist in the week after California Chrome’s Preakness victory.
“I started to feel a little edgy,” he said. “I wanted to relieve some of the stress and remain focused.”
He had recorded one of his hypnosis sessions, and he plugged in his earbuds to listen to it on Monday, but the bulk of the day was devoted to the painstaking homework that has made Durkin’s vivid narration, in real time, a symphony of words, emotion and triumph.
Fox 5 in New York also filed this story on Durkin that is worth your time…
Hopefully Durkin and the rest of us will finally get to see a bit of elusive history made today at Belmont and we get one last famous call that might live for many years.