Tom Durkin, who has called American racing's Triple Crown on radio and television for the last 14 years, has decided not to renew his contract with NBC Sports, citing stress during the buildup to the three races. NBC is televising this year's Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes. Durkin will continue to be the lead race caller for the New York Racing Association.
Durkin called the Triple Crown on radio from 1997-2000, and since then has been the television voice for the series on both NBC and ABC/ESPN. He also called the first 22 Breeders' Cup championships on NBC until that series was moved to ESPN and Trevor Denman was given the assignment.
Daily Racing Form reports that Larry Collmus, track announcer at Gulfstream Park and Monmouth Park, has been the center of speculation as a possible heir apparent for the NBC Sports Triple Crown race calls.
The following press release was issued Tuesday afternoon:
April 26, 2011 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Tom Durkin today announced his decision to not to renew his contract to call the Triple Crown races this year for NBC Sports. The following are statements from Durkin, Ken Schanzer, President, NBC Sports and Dick Ebersol, Chairman, NBC Sports Group.
FROM TOM DURKIN
“The experience I've had working with NBC Sports, over the last twenty seven years has been the most satisfying and rewarding of my professional life. And so, it is with deep regret that I have made the decision not to renew my contract as NBC's Triple Crown announcer. It was an extremely difficult decision to make and one that came after almost a year of reflection. Because of the stress of the event I felt it was not in the interest of my best health. My biggest disappointment though, is not being able to work with my NBC colleagues, many of whom have become some of my dearest friends.”
FROM KEN SCHANZER, PRSIDENT, NBC SPORTS
“Tom Durkin is a legend. He is not only one of the great race callers of all time, but I have been honored to call him my friend for more than a quarter-century. While I regret that he has made the decision to not call the Triple Crown for us, I understand it and wish him nothing but the best.”
FROM DICK EBERSOL, CHAIRMAN, NBC SPORTS GROUP
“It's rare in this business that you find someone who has such extraordinary talent, who works relentlessly, and never ceases to be the nicest person in any room he is in. We will truly miss Tom on our Triple Crown broadcasts.”
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