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

Today's moment of spring

A little more than a week ago Helen sent along a pic of some beautiful robin eggs from her downtown Albany backyard (photo left). And... (more)

Small Change

This is interesting: Small Change is a new crowdfunding site aimed at helping gather funding for small real estate development projects, the kind that banks... (more)

Freedom Park 2017 concert series lineup

The schedule for this summer's series of free concerts at Freedom Park in Scotia is out. As usual, it's a big lineup with multiple concerts... (more)

Upcoming RCHS tours and talks: Troy landmarks, Prohibition, abolition, Aaron Burr's slumber

The Rensselaer County Historical Society has a handful of tours and talks coming up over the next month (or so) that look interesting.. They range... (more)

Drawing: American Music Festival + Peck's Arcade

The Albany Symphony's American Music Festival returns May 31-June 4 in Troy. We have a pair of festival passes and we're giving them away. BUT... (more)

Recent Comments

I've found that anecdotes from neighbors, friends, or internet "strangers" can only take you so far. If you haven't already, I strongly recommend you get out there and visit these schools during the school year, during the school day to get a feel for things. In the last few months, my wife and I have made a series of visits to our local elementary, middle + high-school. During those visits, we had the chance to talk to multiple teachers and see the kids "in action". It was very VERY telling in a lot of ways - both good and bad.

Drawing: American Music Festival + Peck's Arcade

...has 43 comments, most recently from Jessica RW

Experiences to share about Albany schools?

...has 34 comments, most recently from RP

A "self-sustaining, power-generating island unto itself" in Albany

...has 2 comments, most recently from daleyplanit

Albany talking trash over the next month

...has 4 comments, most recently from Sam

They came from the Capital Region

...has 89 comments, most recently from John