02/03/2017 1:28PM

Collmus to call races two nights at Charles Town

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Maryland Jockey Club
Larry Collmus, 50, received the Tom Hammond Sports Media Award last week in Kentucky.

Larry Collmus hasn't called a horse race since the Breeders' Cup Classic, but he will return to the announcer's booth later this month at Charles Town in West Virginia.

Paul Espinosa Jr., the announcer at Charles Town, will take the nights of Feb. 17-18 off, and Collmus has accepted an invitation from Erich Zimny, the vice president of racing operations at Charles Town, to stand in.

"We needed someone to fill in for Paul and I knew an unemployed announcer who's pretty good," Zimny joked.

Collmus is the voice of the New York Racing Association and also calls the Triple Crown and Breeders Cup for NBC Sports. Last year, he decided to take this winter off and resigned his position as the announcer at the Gulfstream Park Championship Meet.

Collmus said he is enjoying his down time and will return to work full time at Aqueduct the week of the April 8 Wood Memorial.

"I'm feeling pretty good about taking time off this winter," Collmus said. "I was ready to take a break."

Collmus, 50, said he has spent a lot of time this winter "getting into better shape and working out." He also has been working on his diet by trying to eat healthier.

"I feel really good," he said.

Collmus has called races at Charles Town before. From 2012 to 2014 he called races on West Virginia Classic night, one of the track's signature events. He also called races one year on Pink Ribbon night, when the Charles Town Oaks is held in conjunction with a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness.

"I enjoy doing it," he said. "I have family in Maryland and it gives me a chance to visit."

Collmus was in Kentucky this past week to accept the Tom Hammond Sports Media Award, which is presented annually by the Bluegrass Sports Commission. The award recognizes broadcasters who have achieved outstanding accomplishments in the field.

"Tom presented me with the award, which was very meaningful since we've become good friends over the years working together for NBC," Collmus said.

Although Collmus still has two months left on his hiatus, he said he plans to start gearing up for the Triple Crown shortly.

"Now that it's February I plan to start working on the top 3-year-olds to get ready for the Kentucky Derby," he said.