08/13/2014 1:11PM

Collmus hired to replace Durkin as NYRA race-caller

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.”

ThePundit More than 1 year ago
I could name 5 announcesr far better than this guy. What are his connections why he gets these big jobs. With the computer chip that are placed on the horses in the race a computer would do a better job than Larry. He sounds artificial and screams at the finish as if he is manufacturing the excitement which he does not feel. He is definitely no better than John Imbirale ant not in the class of Vic Stauffer, Dooley, Denman and many more
Tom More than 1 year ago
Larry Collmus race calling is like eating a bowl of white rice, very bland. Going to miss Durkin though his race calling has slipped a bit. Best choice would of be Vic Stauffer. He's a wonderful race caller who when calling a race hits the right crescendo and gets you excited about the stretch drive. Collmus not my fave.
Dennis Ho More than 1 year ago
Preque isle guy is pretty good too.
noocheroni More than 1 year ago
Bobby Flay gets my vote.
rahman Williams More than 1 year ago
They should of hired the guy at Evangeline Downs.
Dennis Ho More than 1 year ago
What he saying when they open the gate everytime?
Bugsy Anderson More than 1 year ago
And they're off... in french
Tommy More than 1 year ago
Sorry, I forgot about Imbriale....In my opinion, he is a great announcer and one that should have gotten the job! Loyalty does not mean anything, anymore....that goes for anything nowadays! Larry is a fine announcer, but John, you deserved the call buddy, sorry! I still look forward to your calls at Aqueduct! Have a great da, and Enjoy!
Tommy More than 1 year ago
The Golden Gate announcer is far above these guys, hands down, my choice, but then again, everybody has a opinion! Food for thought....Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A race caller is instrumental in conveying race legitimacy to the bettors, while the track officials make the fixes to the races and skimming the pool distributions. They work as a team to run the scam. Enjoy saratoga today folks.
1971 Whippet More than 1 year ago
And the sun rising at a different time each morning constitutes a conspiracy, doesn't it?
Freeman Alexander More than 1 year ago
They could have done much better. I don't know why people are so in love with Colmus's race calling...it is average at best. I wonder if John Dooley applied?? That guy is very underrated! The racing public would love his calls on the big stage.
Frank Reach More than 1 year ago
Horrible choice.