Durkin is Keynote Speaker for Hall of Fame Ceremonies

Edited release
New York Racing Association track announcer Tom Durkin, the voice of the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships since its inception in 1984, will deliver the keynote speech during the National Museum of Racing's Hall of Fame induction ceremonies.

The 51st class of inductees will be welcomed into the Hall of Fame at 10:30 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 7, at the Fasig-Tipton sales pavilion on East Avenue. The program is free and open to the public.

The three 2006 inductees are trainer Carl Hanford, who guided the legendary Kelso to five consecutive Horse of the Year awards, Bill Boland, a standout jockey in the 1950s and 1960s; and owner Mary Jones Bradley's turf champion Cougar II.

Durkin, 55, is a native of Chicago who became interested in the sport in his youth by "every now and then slipping away to the races with my father and friends to Arlington Park, Hawthorne and Sportsman's Park." He majored in theater at St. Norbert College in DePere, Wisc.

According to Durkin, he started calling races in high school, using his friends as the horses, while imitating Phil Georgeff, his boyhood idol, the track announcer at Arlington Park. Durkin's first real race calling job was at the Wisconsin county fairs during the summers of 1971 through 1975 when he called quarter horse and Thoroughbred races from the back of pickup trucks.

In 1976, Durkin worked for Daily Racing Form as a call taker, recording the comments and statistics used in the official charts of races, at Thistledown and at Cahokia Downs in East St. Louis, Ill. Durkin's career took him to a race calling job at Florida Down, now called Tampa Bay Downs, Miles Park in Kentucky, Quad City Downs, Balmoral Park, Hialeah, The Meadowlands and Gulfstream Park. Durkin started calling races for NYRA in 1990.

A year after Durkin made his national television debut with the 1983 Flamingo Stakes at Hialeah, he was hired by NBC and Breeders' Cup Limited to call the inaugural Breeders' Cup on Nov. 10, 1984. He has made the call for every one of the Breeders' Cup flat races since the inception of the series.

Read Transcript of bloodhorse.com Chat With Tom Durkin