08/13/2014 1:11PM

Collmus hired to replace Durkin as NYRA race-caller

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Jerry Dzierwinski/Maryland Jockey Club
Beginning in April, Larry Collmus will become the voice of the New York Racing Association.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Larry Collmus will succeed Tom Durkin as the track announcer for the New York Racing Association – eventually.

On Wednesday, NYRA announced that Collmus will become the primary track announcer for Aqueduct, Belmont Park, and Saratoga but will not start until April, the week leading up to the Grade 1 Wood Memorial. Collmus will call the month of April at Aqueduct, the Belmont spring and fall meets as well as Saratoga. John Imbriale will call the races at Aqueduct with the exception of the month of April.

The team of Collmus and Imbriale will take over for Durkin, who is retiring as the NYRA caller on Aug. 31 after 23 years in the booth and 43 years in the industry.

Collmus will fulfill his contractual obligation to Churchill Downs and call that track’s fall meet. He called Churchill’s spring meet but only had a one-year deal with that track. Collmus will remain the winter announcer at Gulfstream from December through March.

Collmus said he signed a five-year contract with NYRA.

“When you’re a kid and you’re growing up and you want to be a race caller, you want to be here, and I’m here,” Collmus said at a morning press conference ontrack announcing his hiring.

Collmus called his first race at age 18 at Bowie and called at Golden Gate Fields, Suffolk Downs, Monmouth Park, and Gulfstream. He called at Aqueduct during 2005-06.

This won’t be the first time Collmus has followed Durkin. In 2011, he took over from Durkin as the voice of the Triple Crown. In 2012, Collmus also became the voice of the Breeders’ Cup, taking over for Trevor Denman. He will retain both of those jobs.

“I think it’s an honor to be the guy that’s following Tom Durkin,” Collmus said. “I don’t want to be the guy that’s going to try to be like Tom Durkin and sound like Tom Durkin. I think you’ll find our styles are a little bit similar, but I think it’s important to be yourself. The racing in New York is definitely going to have a new sound, but hopefully one that everybody is going to like.”

Chris Kay, NYRA’s president and chief executive, said 18 to 20 race callers applied for the job, and he narrowed the search down to five before selecting Collmus.

“One of the most important things is we’re trying to convey a sense of excitement and a sense of accuracy,” Kay said. “When we listened to all of them, they’re all very good, but Larry tends to do a better job, we thought, in terms of conveying that accuracy and conveying that excitement.”

Imbriale, 59, said he was disappointed not to have gotten the full-time job but said he was happy to “still be in the mix.”