SBD/September 2, 2014/People and Pop Culture

Longtime NYRA Track Announcer Tom Durkin Signs Off For Final Time From Saratoga

NYRA track announcer TOM DURKIN for the last 25 years has "provided the real-time oral history of modern thoroughbred racing," but on Sunday produced his "last call" during the Spinaway Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, according to a front-page piece by Joe Drape of the N.Y. TIMES. Durkin said that he has "no idea" what is next. But he "mentioned voice work, some personal writing and perhaps work as a tour guide in Italy, a country he has spent extensive time exploring." Durkin on Sunday "welled with tears as he addressed the crowd one final time." He said, "The person that I owe an inexpressible gratitude is you. The racing fan, the horseplayer. Thank you" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/1). On Long Island, Ed McNamara noted after he called 13 1/4-length winner Condo Commander "splash-tastic," fans chanted "Tommy Durkin! Tommy Durkin!" Rain at Saratoga "stopped for a special salute in the winner's circle, where Durkin received the Jockey Club Medal of Honor and a 'very large' check" from NYRA BOD member MICHAEL DUBB (NEWSDAY, 9/1). In Saratoga Springs, David Johnson noted Durkin was on hand at the course yesterday for the final day of the meet to "greet fans, sign autographs and pose for photos in the backyard starting at noon." Durkin found "perhaps one of the few careers in racing where his horse allergy did not hamper him." With a parking spot "close to the track and the 'best seat in the house' his enjoyment of the sport translated to the public through his creative, and sometimes hilarious, descriptions of the races" (THE SARATOGIAN, 9/1).
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