As Tom Durkin arrives at the top of the stretch, five of his greatest calls

NYRA screengrab 2009 Woodward Stakes

"A dramatic stretch drive awaits ... Calvin Borel imploring his filly for more!" -- From Durkin's call of the 2009 Woodward Stakes at Saratoga, won by superstar horse Rachel Alexandra, the first filly to win the race.

By Robert Lee

Anyone who has watched horse racing, avidly or casually, over the last 30 years associates one voice with the sport more than any other: Tom Durkin. He announced this past wekeend that he will retire after 43 years calling races, the last 24 of those years as the primary announcer for the New York Racing Association. His last race at the Saratoga Race Course will be August 31.

In my opinion, Durkin is the greatest racecaller of my lifetime and there's really no one even close. He is fundamentally sound, giving the fan accurate descriptions of the horses and their positions while showing his great ability to know which horses are ready to move forward while others are "stopping badly," to borrow a favorite Durkin phrase.

Most importantly, Durkin shows a true flair for the dramatic, raising his game when the stakes are highest.

Here are clips from five of his greatest calls from his time as the voice of NYRA, as well as horse racing's Breeders' Cup...

#5 "There is cause for Concern" in the 1994 Travers

One of the most thrilling editions of Saratoga's signature race

#4 Rachel Alexandra raises the rafters at the Spa

It's hard to believe the crowd at Saratoga has ever been louder than at the finish of the 2009 Woodward Stakes.

#3 Real Quiet falls just short in bid to win Triple Crown

Durkin has never called a Triple Crown winner (it hasn't happened since 1978). He never got closer than this.

#2 Personal Ensign finishes career undefeated in 1988 Breeders' Cup Distaff

How he knew the great Personal Ensign won the race, no one will ever know

#1 "The two Derby winners hit the wire together"

The winners of the 1986 and 1987 Kentucky Derby stage a thriller in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Robert Lee is the voice of Siena basketball and an avid horse racing fan.

screengrab: NYRA

Comments

I get goose bumps watching/hearing those calls!!

He is the voice of Saratoga and will be greatly missed!

Robert, the second paragraph of this story says it all. As I commented on the original AOA bit about his retirement, Saratoga (the Track) will never be the same.

Oh gosh, so many good ones... but this one's always my favorite: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsoIKsH0IpA :)

Say Something!

We'd really like you to take part in the conversation here at All Over Albany. But we do have a few rules here. Don't worry, they're easy. The first: be kind. The second: treat everyone else with the same respect you'd like to see in return. Cool? Great, post away. Comments are moderated so it might take a little while for your comment to show up. Thanks for being patient.

The Scoop

Ever wish you had a smart, savvy friend with the inside line on what's happening around the Capital Region? You know, the kind of stuff that makes your life just a little bit better? Yeah, we do, too. That's why we created All Over Albany. Find out more.

Recently on All Over Albany

An 18th century Albany wedding cake (maybe)

The Albany Muskrat pointed this out today, and given the interest in the early 19th century "Albany Cake" recipe last fall, we figured you might... (more)

Morning Blend

Hoosick Falls There's a state Senate hearing scheduled for Tuesday in Hoosick Falls about the contamination of the water supply there with PFOA: + A... (more)

Here's the list of entries for this year's AOA Startup Grant

Crowd voting for two spots in the final of this year's AOA Startup Grant contest starts this Wednesday. So let's have a look at the... (more)

J.D. McPherson at The Hangar

Singer/songwriter J.D. McPherson is set to play two shows at The Hangar in Troy, September 24 and September 25. Tickets are on sale now --... (more)

The Irish Alps

Over at NYT, Michael Malone revisits "The Irish Alps" a collection of resorts around East Durham in northern Greene County that were once a popular... (more)

Recent Comments

... I think a competition would really help to open everyone's eyes to the real potential of the site. Too much time has been spent with typical, antiquated ideas. Let design professionals with new ideas have a crack at the site and you'll be amazed at it's potential.

Sarah and Brianna's apartment on the park

...has 2 comments, most recently from Alison

VanCurler Music is closing

...has 4 comments, most recently from albanydrum Mike

How to move forward at 1 Monument Square?

...has 5 comments, most recently from JayK

Adapting to the Madison Ave Road Diet

...has 16 comments, most recently from JayK

Morning Blend for Aug 29

...has 1 comment, most recently from Tim Raab