08/29/2014 10:08AM

Churchill evaluating candidates for new race-caller


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Churchill Downs has “no precise timetable for announcing the successor” to race-caller Larry Collmus “other than to say we’d rather see that announcement made sooner than later,” said Churchill vice president John Asher, who is helping to lead the search.

Asher wrote Friday in a lengthy email that there is “a considerable roster of voices currently on our radar,” and that he and other track officials are “very familiar with the talent pool.”

Collmus, who stepped into the Churchill job earlier in the year, recently was hired to call at New York Racing Association tracks, although he will not begin those duties until April. Collmus still will call races at the next two Churchill meets: the 12-day September meet that begins next Friday and the 26-day fall meet, which runs Oct. 26 to Nov. 30.

The new Churchill caller will assume duties for the following spring meet, which begins April 25. Numerous replacement candidates have been mentioned on social media and elsewhere, including Kurt Becker, Bill Downes, Frank Mirahmadi, Bobby Neuman, and Travis Stone.

Asher said the search team has been fielding calls and emails from those interested in the position and that he expected “the pace of that activity will step up significantly” with the start of the September meet.

“We do have the luxury of a little time since Larry will be with us through the fall meet,” he said. “But we don’t plan for this search to stretch out over an extended period. We are very familiar with many of our candidates, but we’re also eager to hear new and emerging voices.”

Collmus’s new position in replacing Tom Durkin at NYRA also will allow him to remain the caller during the prime winter months at Gulfstream Park in Florida. John Imbriale will call races for NYRA during that period and on other occasions when Collmus is unavailable.

Collmus is the seventh caller at Churchill, dating to the use of a public-address system in 1940. He replaced Mark Johnson, who called for five years after being hired following the 2008 death of Luke Kruytbosch.