10/02/2008 12:00AM

Churchill to use five race-callers at fall meet


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Churchill Downs will use five race-callers for one week apiece at its upcoming five-week fall meet in an attempt to determine which one will become the full-time caller in time for the 135th Kentucky Derby next May, officials with the track announced Thursday.

Four of the voices are familiar to American racegoers, while another, Mark Johnson, calls races in England. The American-based callers are Larry Collmus, who calls at Gulfstream Park, Monmouth Park, and Suffolk Downs; Bobby Neuman, Calder Race Course; Travis Stone, Louisiana Downs; and Michael Wrona, Golden Gate Fields.

The Churchill meet runs Oct. 26 through Nov. 29. In order, the callers will be Neuman (Oct. 26-Nov. 2), Stone (Nov. 5-9), Wrona (Nov. 12-16), Collmus (Nov. 19-23), and Johnson (Nov. 26-29).

The Churchill race-caller position came open after Luke Kruytbosch, the announcer since 1999, died suddenly a week after the 2008 spring meet ended July 6. Kruytbosch was the fifth announcer in track history.

A committee of Churchill officials came up with the novel idea of announcer-by-committee. "Our committee will reconvene at season's end and, based on positive reviews, I think there's a good chance that our next announcer will come from this group," Churchill general manager Jim Gates said in a press release. He added a final decision could come before the end of the year.