Tom Durkin

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This article is about the sportscaster. For the soccer coach, see Tom Durkin (soccer coach).
Tom Durkin
Born November 30, 1950
Chicago, Illinois
Sports commentary career
Sports Thoroughbred horse racing

Tom Durkin (born November 30, 1950, in Chicago, Illinois) is an American sportscaster and public address announcer specializing in Thoroughbred horse racing. He was the race caller for NBC Sports from 1984 through 2010.

Durkin studied drama at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin. In 1971, he was hired as a race caller at Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred races at county fairs in Wisconsin. He did this each summer through 1975, then the following year was employed by the Daily Racing Form as a call taker responsible for documenting the comments and statistics used in the official charts of the races at Cahokia Downs and Thistledown Racecourse. He went on to work as a race caller at Florida Downs in Oldsmar, Florida, Miles Park (race track) in Louisville, Kentucky, Quad City Downs in East Moline, Illinois, Balmoral Park Racetrack in Crete, Illinois, Hialeah Park Race Track in Hialeah, Florida, Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida, and in 1990 was hired to call races at the New York Racing Association's Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.

Durkin served as the Breeders Cup's chief TV voice from its inception through 2005 and was a longtime broadcaster on NBC as part of the network's sportscasting crew for horse races, providing analysis, commentary and features in addition to the descriptions of races.

Durkin earned fame in this decade from calling the U.S. Triple Crown races for NBC, which took over the coverage of the events in 2001. Due to his contract with NBC, Durkin no longer called Breeders' Cup races, starting from 2006, as those races moved to ESPN.[1][2] However, he continued calling the Belmont Stakes, which air on ABC, because of his position as the track announcer at Belmont Park.

Like his predecessor, Marshall Cassidy, Durkin is also a TV voice on important stakes races on ESPN beyond the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup series.

At The Meadowlands, Durkin called the match race in the 1989 Hambletonian Stakes harness race between Park Avenue Joe and Probe; the horses finished in a dead heat, becoming the only co-winners of the prestigious race.

He made a flub during the 2009 Kentucky Derby when he failed to notice the eventual winner, Mine That Bird, take a three-length lead in the home stretch. Durkin kept calling the names of the horses in second and third place and ignored the front runner until just before the horse crossed the finish line.

On April 26, 2011, Durkin announced his decision to not to renew his contract with NBC Sports, citing stress.[3] On May 10, 2014, Durkin announced that he would retire from his announcer position on August 31, near the end of the 2014 Saratoga meet.[4]

Famous quotes[edit]

...They are coming to the top of the stretch, it is still the filly in front, a dramatic stretch drive awaits in the Woodward Stakes, on the outside here's Bullsbay, and Calvin Borel imploring his filly for more, and Rachel Alexandra holds on to the lead, Bullsbay is second, Macho Again is making a tremendous run from the back of the pack, Rachel Alexandra, Macho Again, they are coming to the finish, it's gonna be a desperately close, here's the wire, Rachel won, she is indeed Rachel Alexandra the Great, beating Macho Again here, and further back is Bullsbay in 3rd, the time was 1:48 and one, Rachel Alexandra raises the rafters here at the Spa. (2009 Woodward Stakes)
And at the top of the stretch, a filly is in front at the Belmont! But Curlin is right there with her! These two, in a battle of the sexes in the Belmont Stakes! It is Curlin on the inside! Rags to Riches on the outside! A desperate finish! Rags to Riches and Curlin! They're coming down to the wire! It's going to be very close! And it's going to be...A FILLY IN THE BELMONT! Rags to Riches has beaten Curlin and a hundred years of Belmont history! The first filly to win it in over a century.

(2007 Belmont Stakes)

Neither of these brave trotters giving way, they are full tilt, down the stretch, an eighth of a mile out! Park Avenue Joe digging in gamely! Probe pokes a head in front! Probe on the outside, Park Avenue Joe comes roaring back! A relentless drive to the wire! Park Avenue Joe, Probe... here's the finish! ... TOO CLOSE TO CALL!

(Durkin calling the only dead heat in the history of the $1 Million+ Hambletonian)

The most shocking defeat in the Wood Memorial since Secretariat himself, and the Kentucky Derby is up for grabs.

(Durkin describing Uncle Mo's defeat in the 2011 Wood Memorial)

Arazi runs right by him, and he's pouring it on, just an incredible move. And here INDEED is a SUPERSTAR, Arazi, absolutely brilliant, he was taken under a hard hold to win here by 5, but he could have won by 10 perhaps, ABSOLUTELY SENSATIONAL! (Durkin describing Arazi's win in the 1991 Breeders' Cup Juvenile)
And Cigar wants to go to the lead, but Jerry Bailey says no not yet.

Concern still last three furlongs to go CIGAR, CIGAR makes his move, and he takes the lead with a dramatic rush.

A quarter of a mile between Cigar and a perfect season...coming down to the last furlong with a two and a half length lead...and Jerry Bailey calls on Cigar for everything he has. L'Carriere is a weaking second. On the inside, Unaccounted for. On the outside, Soul of the Matter. And here he is: The unconquerable, invincible, unbeatable Cigar! (Durkin calling Cigar's victory in the 1995 Breeders' Cup Classic, which capped an undefeated season en route to the bay's first Horse of the Year title)

Victory Gallop is six lengths from the lead but he's gathering momentum. And as they arrive at the top of the stretch, Real Quiet is taking the lead! He's coming to the eight pole! Twenty years in the waiting, one furlong to go, but here comes his rival, Victory Gallop! As they come to the final sixteenth, Kent Desormeaux imploring Real Quiet to hold on! Victory Gallop, a final surge! It's going to be very close! Here's the wire! ... [pause] ... IT'S TOO CLOSE TO CALL! Was it Real Quiet or was it Victory Gallop? A picture is worth a thousand words. This photo is worth FIVE MILLION DOLLARS. OH, NO! History in the waiting, on hold, till we get that photo finish!(Durkin describing the photo finish with Real Quiet's Triple Crown on the line at the 1998 Belmont Stakes)
Here comes Monarchos, who sweeps to the lead! He's pulling away by two, he's pulling away by three! Jorge Chavez and Monarchos have won the Kentucky Derby! And the final time was 1:59 and 4/5ths seconds! He was as fast as Secretariat! (Durkin calling his first Kentucky Derby in 2001)
And undefeated Smarty Jones comes wide off the turn! And these two hook up at the top of the stretch! Lionheart is all heart! Smarty Jones is all out! And those two...deadlocked at the eight pole...and Smarty Jones is roused to the lead by journeyman jockey Stewart Elliott and they have taken the lead away from Lionheart. Farther back it's Limehouse and Imperialism, and here is the first undefeated winner of the Kentucky Derby since Seattle Slew in 1977, Smarty Jones has done it!" (Durkin describing Smarty Jones' win in the first leg of the Triple Crown races in 2004)
And Smarty Jones enters the stretch to the roar of 120,000! But Birdstone is gonna make him earn it today! The whip is out on Smarty Jones! It's been 26 years, it's just one furlong away! Birdstone is an unsung threat! They're coming down to the finish! Can Smarty Jones hold on?! Here comes Birdstone, Birdstone surges past! Birdstone wins the Belmont Stakes! (Durkin calling the 2004 Belmont Stakes.)
"AND Saraaaaaava has come on through!" (Durkin describing Sarava coming on to win the 2002 Belmont Stakes)
"And on the far outside here comes...ARRRRR. At the top of the stretch coming into the final furlong now. In between horses, Crafty CJ with a narrow lead. ARRRRR continues to fight on, on the outside. It's Goodtobeking and Blazing Bhuda, and further back it's Little Wise Guy. They're coming down to the finish, and it's... ARRRRR...ARRRRRRRR......ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!" (Durkin describing the stretch run of fan favorite Arrrrr at Saratoga Racecourse on July 28, 2008.)
And Hicka-mocka-rocka-docka-lola... And then it's Dicka-hocka-mocka-rocka-dola... And the trailer is Dola-rola-rola-rocka-docka-mola-hola. (Durkin calling the run of Yakahickamickadola at Hialeah Park Race Track)
BORREGO! Borrego is inhaling horses one at a time with a sensational BLITZ on the far turn...Borrego CA-TA-PUL-TING past the field! A wild move by Borrego, he's opening up by 5 lengths as the field comes down to the final furlong! Suave is second, Grand Reward is third, Flower Alley toiling, Imperialism, Sun King...Borrego just blew them away and he is IN HAND...IN HAND for the final furlong! He walked home, he won that easily! (Durkin calling the 2005 Jockey Club Gold Cup)
Aptitude is taken wide by Gander and the field turns for home…here comes the Arc winner, Sakhee, and he storms to the lead! Sahkee a narrow lead, and Tiznow is battling on! The American Horse of the Year and the Arc winner are heads apart with a furlong to go in The Classic! On the outside Sahkee, ..Tiznow fights on! Here's the wire…desperately close!....TIZNOW WINS IT FOR AMERICA! (2001 Breeders' Cup Classic)
And here is that stampede by us for the first time...(2008 Kentucky Derby)
And they're off, in the Kentucky Derby! (Usual opening line in each Derby he calls)
...And here comes Barbaro! The undefeated Barbaro comes up on the outside and he takes the lead as the field turns for home in the Kentucky Derby, Barbaro turns it on!... But they're coming to the finish and it is all Barbaro! In a sublime performance, he runs away from them all, and he has something left for the Preakness! (Durkin calling Barbaro's 2006 Derby victory)

It's a photo finish that doesn't deserve a loser (Carson Hollow vs. You in the Test Stakes)


  1. ^ Shulman, Lenny (September 2, 2006). "Durkin Out as TV Voice of Breeders' Cup". Retrieved September 2, 2006. 
  2. ^ "It's Official: Denman to Call 2006 Breeders' Cup". September 6, 2006. Retrieved September 6, 2006. 
  3. ^ "Durkin no longer voice of NBC, Triple Crown". April 26, 2011. Retrieved April 26, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Track Announcer Tom Durkin Announces His Retirement". New York Daily news. May 10, 2014. Retrieved May 10, 2014. 

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