02/13/2014 12:37PM

Larry Collmus named announcer at Churchill Downs

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Larry Collmus has been hired as the race-caller at Churchill Downs.

Larry Collmus has been named the new race-caller at Churchill Downs, replacing Mark Johnson, who had called at the Louisville, Ky., landmark since the 2009 spring meet.

For Collmus, 47, the hire represents yet another major coup in an announcing career that started in 1985 at the old Bowie in his native Maryland. Collmus has called the Triple Crown races since 2011 and the Breeders’ Cup since 2012, both for NBC Sports, while also serving as the regular caller at Gulfstream Park and Monmouth Park.

Collmus will be the third Churchill caller to call the Derby both ontrack and for television, following Chic Anderson and Mike Battaglia.
Collmus has resigned from Monmouth, where he called since 1994, because of the conflicting summer dates. Churchill, which now runs three meets, runs its spring meet through the end of June. Collmus basically will be off during July, August, and October while working at Churchill and Gulfstream during the other nine months.

Monmouth, which this year runs May 10 through Sept. 28, is seeking a new caller.

At Gulfstream on Thursday, Collmus said: “I’m thrilled to be joining Churchill Downs, the most famous track in the country, and it’s terrific to be able to stay here in south Florida during the winter and to stay as the voice of the Triple Crown and NBC Sports.”

Johnson, 48, had traveled to and from his home in England for every Churchill meet since being named the caller following the death of Luke Kruytbosch. At their 2008 meet, Churchill hosted five callers (one per week) for live auditions after Kruytbosch died in July of that year, with Johnson ultimately being given the job by a committee of Churchill officials. Collmus was among the other four who tried out.

A Thursday media release from Churchill said the track wishes Johnson “the very best after five good years” and that he “described some fantastic moments at our track.”

Collmus becomes the seventh caller in Churchill history, the first being Gene Schmidt, who began in 1940.

Patrick More than 1 year ago
The level of clout,cachet &gravitas that Indian Charlie has with ChurchillDowns is far more significant than I would have imagined.
Bob More than 1 year ago
Now if Kentucky would just get rid of that awful Mike Battaglia at Turdway Park.....the guy is the absolute WORST race caller in history!
Kevin More than 1 year ago
Yes, the singsongy way he has is quite distracting. Plus the racing at TP is utterly incomprehensible.
Jeff Arthur More than 1 year ago
Mr. MOTO...Master of the Obvious...or rather what already happened. He is fine as a racing broadcaster, but Keeneland's racecaller in the 70's did a better job.
Richard Gerbig More than 1 year ago
Good luck Larry, you will be missed at the Jersey Shore! Hopefully Monmouth can land someone like Vic Staufer. I wouldn't mind Kurt Becker since the Keeneland dates don't conflict with most of Monmouths dates.
Joe Quillen More than 1 year ago
Wouldn't Collmus working at Gulfstream and Churchill be a conflict of interest?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The article does mention why Mark Johnson left Churchill Downs!! Does anyone know for sure why Mark is leaving?? Is he going back home? Geez, it's like a one, two punch for me as I love both Larry and Mark at their respective tracks!!
Greg More than 1 year ago
They never mentioned how Luke passed, does anyone no? Luke was the Curt Gowdy of Football.
mikey More than 1 year ago
I think it was a heart attack??
Joe Quillen More than 1 year ago
Natural causes, probably heart related according to Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luke_Kruytbosch
Green1John More than 1 year ago
Yes indeed it was a massive heart attack. He did not know he had a heart condition. He was the best announcer going. Too bad he left us so soon!
Greg More than 1 year ago
Thank god did not like the eruos race calling at all l!!!! Go back to the UK. Churchill people should be ashamed of them selves for picking him after Luke, the best vioce ever for race calling. Collmus is good .
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
A real upgrade. Congrats !
jaybern1 More than 1 year ago
I think Alex Trebek should have gotten the job.
Daniel155 More than 1 year ago
he would have to look up the names of the horses in the jeopardy answer guide
Chuck Berger More than 1 year ago
As I previously mentioned Larry Collmus is an excellent choice to take over the C.D. mike. Other good announcers are John Dooley and the announcer at Louisiana Downs. I still like Trevor. Never been a fan of Durkin. To each his own, I guess.