Sportscaster Tom Hammond, who has hosted Thoroughbred racing telecasts for a quarter century, has been named honor guest of the Thoroughbred Club of America’s 77th Annual Testimonial Dinner, club president Mike Barnett announced Sept. 11. The dinner will be held at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington Nov. 16.
A native of Lexington, Hammond has traveled far and wide in his career, covering a range of sporting events including all but one of the first 24 Breeders’ Cup telecasts on NBC. In 2001, Hammond overcame serious illness in time to fulfill a dream of broadcasting the Kentucky Derby. A veteran horse owner in partnerships over many years, Hammond has also served for two decades as an announcer at Keeneland sales.
“We recognize that Tom Hammond is prominent in the sports world overall,” said Barnett, “but Thoroughbred racing is proud to claim him as our own. We know that, in addition to his on air personality and wide knowledge of the game, he has been a staunch supporter of Thoroughbred racing. I have every confidence that the amount of national coverage the sport has received is in part a result of his dedication to it.”
Outside racing, Hammond’s assignments have sent him to the eight Olympic Games, including the recently concluded Games in China. He is also currently the play-by-play announcer for NBC’s coverage of Notre Dame college football and for Raycom Sports’ coverage of Southeastern Conference basketball. Earlier, he was for 10 years the sports, news, and program director for WLEX-TV in Lexington and was a founder of Hammond Communications.
Hammond follows the late Jim McKay as the second Thoroughbred Club Honor Guest whose recognition stemmed in part from deep involvement with televised racing. “To join the late Jim McKay in this award is a singular honor,” Hammond said. “He was one of the greatest sports broadcasters of all time and was always very supportive of me. I found that we had both broadcast Olympic track and field and figure skating, but most of all we shared a deep love for Thoroughbred racing.”
Honors in Thoroughbred racing include an Eclipse Award and Charles W. Engelhard Award, and he has been involved in numerous Emmy Award-winning telecasts involving various sports. Hammond also was the first A. B. Chandler “Kentuckian” Award winner and was named a University of Kentucky Distinguished alumnus as well as being elected to the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame and Kentucky Sports Hall of Fame.
The purpose of the Testimonial Dinner, since its inception in 1932, is not merely to honor successful careers, but to recognize those who have rendered distinguished service to the sport of racing.