12/19/2014 2:41PM

Travis Stone named new Churchill Downs race-caller

Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Travis Stone, 30, is the eighth race-caller in Churchill Downs history.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Churchill Downs Inc. announced Friday that Travis Stone has been hired as the new race-caller at its flagship track, replacing Larry Collmus, who resigned after just one year to work primarily at the New York Racing Association.

Stone, 30, becomes the eighth caller in track history. A native of Schroon Lake, N.Y., Stone began calling races full time at Louisiana Downs in 2006, and moved this summer to call at Monmouth Park before most recently moving into a part-time position with NYRA.

“I’m thrilled beyond words,” Stone said Friday from upstate New York. “It’s very humbling and I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to join the team at Churchill.”

Stone became interested in racing at a very young age while frequenting Saratoga, near where he grew up. Since graduating from the State University of New York at Oneonta he has worked in a variety of capacities in the industry, but race-calling is his passion. His calls bear a resemblance to two of his icons, Dave Johnson and Tom Durkin.

“I’ve had a lot of people tell me that,” said Stone. “I grew up listening to them at Saratoga or on TV. They were my only exposures to race-calling. Actually, I don’t mind sounding like them because they’re two of the best ever.”

Collmus, who calls the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup races for NBC Sports, was hired in February by Churchill to replace Mark Johnson, whose contract was not renewed following five years in the position.  NYRA then named Collmus in August to replace the retiring Durkin. Besides his work for NBC and at NYRA, where he starts in April, Collmus still will call during the prime winter months at Gulfstream Park, where he currently is stationed.

Stone was among five men given a tryout at the 2008 Churchill fall meet in the aftermath of the unexpected death of Luke Kruytbosch, who had called at Churchill since 1999. Churchill hired Mark Johnson out of the tryout.

Stone said he hopes to continue to work winters at Aqueduct with John Imbriale while Collmus works at Gulfstream. Monmouth now will be looking to hire a new caller again. Stone worked at the New Jersey track for just one year upon replacing Collmus, who had called there since 1994.

Churchill Downs announcers:

◗Travis Stone (2015-)

◗ Larry Collmus (2014)

◗ Mark Johnson (2009-13)

◗ Luke Kruytbosch (1999-2008)

◗ Kurt Becker (1997-98)

◗ Mike Battaglia (1978-96)

◗ Chic Anderson (1961-77)

◗ Gene Schmidt (1940-60)