10/13/2014 11:22AM

Battaglia won’t work Breeders’ Cup broadcast for NBC

Barbara D. Livingston
Mike Battaglia will call the races live at Churchill Downs from Oct. 26 through Nov. 2 while Larry Collmus is on leave.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Mike Battaglia, part of major racing broadcasts on NBC for more than 20 years, said recently at Keeneland that he will not be working the upcoming Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita and instead will call the races live at Churchill Downs while Larry Collmus is on leave.

Battaglia, the longtime face of Keeneland racing as host of the in-house simulcast program, said he was disappointed with not being part of the NBC team after having worked the Breeders’ Cup, Triple Crown, and other major racing events for the network since 1993. He is being replaced by Eddie Olczyk, an NBC hockey commentator and longtime racing supporter based in Chicago.

Battaglia, 64, will call the first week of racing at Churchill from Oct. 26 through Nov. 2, marking the first time he has called regularly at the Louisville track since the 1996 fall meet. Battaglia called every Kentucky Derby from 1978 to 1996 before being replaced by Kurt Becker, who still is the only race-caller at Keeneland since a public-address system was installed in 1997. Becker resigned at Churchill after the 1998 fall meet and was replaced by Luke Kruytbosch.

Collmus, who calls the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup for NBC, will resume his duties at Churchill on Nov. 5 through the end of the meet Nov. 30. This is his final Churchill meet after just one year on the job, having been hired in August by the New York Racing Association to be its main caller starting in April.

In the meantime, Churchill officials said they are continuing their search for a full-time replacement for Collmus, starting with the 2015 spring meet.

Besides his announcing and commentating duties, Battaglia also has been the linemaker for 40 years at Churchill, Keeneland, and his home track of Turfway Park, where he continues as race-caller during the winter months.