“The end of an era.” That phrase gets thrown around a little too often, but when Tom Durkin retires on August 31 after 43 years of calling the horse races at New York Racing Association tracks there will truly be a hole left in the heart of horse racing lovers nationwide.
I grew up watching New York racing with my parents, and Tom Durkin was the voice of some of the most exciting sporting moments of my childhood. When I got a little older and was able to begin attending the races at Saratoga Race Course, it was Tom who provided the soundtrack to my summers at the oval. Below are 10 of my favorite calls of Mr. Durkin’s; I know I’ve only scratched the surface here, so please leave your favorites in the comments below.
10: Horses running in a blanket of fog makes for a hilarious race call!
9: Yaka-dika-flicka-whatever: if this doesn’t make you smile I’m not sure what will.
8. Arrrrr! Arrrr! Arrrrr!
7. “No need to call it!” – Commentator wins.
6. Doremifasollatido: singing a horse to the finish line.
5. Onoitsmymotherinlaw: Just the glumness in his voice as the horse wins is hilarious!
4. Rags to Riches defeats Curlin in a battle of the sexes in the 2007 Belmont Stakes.
3. The 1995 Breeders’ Cup Classic: “The incomparable, invincible, unbeatable Cigar!”
2. Rachel Alexandra’s 2009 Woodward Stakes victory: this was a tough one to put in second place since it’s such an amazing moment and one of the great race calls of all time.
1. “Tiznow wins it for America!” This one will always have a special place in my heart. In the wake of September 11, the Breeders’ Cup was the first major sporting event to be held in New York City following the horror of the attacks. With the world watching, Tom Durkin called home the first and only two-time Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, Tiznow, in one of the most thrilling races in modern history.
Thank you, Tom Durkin, for these and countless more memories that you’ve given horse racing fans for nearly half of a century. We at America’s Best Racing wish you a very happy retirement!