12/19/2014 3:41PM

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)

monkey business More than 1 year ago
Your right about poor racing quality, but if you had bought CD stock 5 years ago you would be rich now.
Norm More than 1 year ago
Good choice
Lefty More than 1 year ago
Frank Mirahmadi for Monmouth Announcer! He could do it!
Walter More than 1 year ago
How much does a race caller make ?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
must have been a small field to pick from CDI did not have the courtesy to give it to Bobby Neuman who got ousted in the Calder deal
Michael Infurna More than 1 year ago
Monmouth takes it in the goolie again!!
william More than 1 year ago
sweet gig.....not too difficult to call a parade of 5 horse fields 9 times per day.
william More than 1 year ago
sorry, harp....I saw your comment after I posted
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
Phillip Cleek More than 1 year ago
Congratulations, Travis! I know you will do a great job.
gallopingtom More than 1 year ago
I don't play CD so this has no impact on me.
Walt Gekko More than 1 year ago
Travis Stone is one of the up and coming voices of this sport. It's great to see him land the Churchill Downs announcer's position, which for obvious reasons is a big move. What will be interesting to see is if that expands to also include Keeneland depending on what happens with Comcast's plans for NASCAR (which NBC and NBCSN will be airing the second half of starting this coming July 5). Current Keeneland track announcer Kurt Becker also calls NASCAR races outside of the Keeneland meets for the Motor Sports Network on radio and could very easily wind up moving to NBC's NASCAR coverage if Comcast decides to go that route since he'd be a logical fit there and NBC/NBCSN could also use him on their Triple Crown and other Horse Racing coverage. It will be interesting to see who replaces Stone at Monmouth. Most logical right now would be Ken Warkentin since he is familiar to those who play both Monmouth and The Meadowlands and he has filled in at Monmouth in the past (while Sam McKee also calls at The Meadowlands, he would not be as likely given he is considered the premier track announcer in Harness Racing and aside from The Big M also calls a number of the major Grand Circuit Harness meets).
mikey More than 1 year ago
Hard to find a guy to work so little for so little.
Taft Gardner More than 1 year ago
Hey, Mikey. Here's another definition of the term "cheap shot". Your last comment.
Michael Infurna More than 1 year ago
Maybe Bob Kulina can call the races?? He professes to know everything about the racetrack!!