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NYRA names Larry Collmus new race caller, replacing Tom Durkin

Track announcer Larry Collmus checks out his booth

Track announcer Larry Collmus checks out his booth high atop the grandstand at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Wednesday, April 23, 2014. Credit: AP

The new voice of the New York Racing Association is very familiar. NYRA has named Larry Collmus, internationally known for calling the Triple Crown and Breeders' Cup, to replace the retiring Tom Durkin.

Collmus will keep working at Churchill Downs and Gulfstream Park before joining NYRA next April at Aqueduct. Before that, John Imbriale, NYRA's director of television production and Durkin's longtime backup, will call the Belmont Park and Big A meetings.

NYRA CEO Chris Kay made the announcement Wednesday at a Saratoga news conference. Kay said Collmus was among "18 to 20" applicants, and that accuracy and the excitement he conveyed made him the choice.

Collmus' star kept rising as he distinguished himself at Monmouth Park (1994-2013) and since 2007 at Gulfstream, where Durkin became nationally prominent in the 1980s. In 2011, Collmus replaced Durkin for the Triple Crown races, which Durkin began calling in 2001. In 2012, Collmus got the Breeders' Cup job, replacing Trevor Denman, who in 2006 succeeded Durkin after his 22-year run. Collmus will retain both roles for NBC.

"I am so excited and honored to become the next voice of New York racing," he said. "I have some enormous shoes to fill as Tom Durkin raised the bar of our profession very high."

Durkin, 63, announced in June he would retire after 43 years, the past 24 in New York. "I would like to congratulate Larry and wish him the very best," he said. "I am confident Larry will find New York racing as exciting and rewarding as I did."

Collmus, a 47-year-old native of Baltimore, attended the same high school as the Yankees' Mark Teixeira. He debuted in 1985 at 18 at Bowie in Maryland and also worked at Alabama's Birmingham Turf Club (1987), Golden Gate Fields (1988-91) and Suffolk Downs (1992-2008).

Like Durkin, he is personable and approachable, not a guy who big-times anybody.

"I don't want to try to be like Tom Durkin and sound like Tom Durkin," Collmus said. "I think you'll find our styles are a little bit similar, but I think it's important to be yourself. The racing in New York is definitely going to have a new sound, but hopefully one that everybody is going to like.

"When you're a kid growing up and you want to be a race caller, you want to be here, and I'm here."

After making it everywhere else, that seemed inevitable.

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