Tom Durkin April 26 announced his decision to not to renew his contract to call the Triple Crown races this year for NBC Sports.
“The experience I’ve had working with NBC Sports over the last 27 years has been the most satisfying and rewarding of my professional life,” said Tom Durkin in a statement. "And so, it is with deep regret that I have made the decision not to renew my contract as NBC’s Triple Crown announcer. It was an extremely difficult decision to make and one that came after almost a year of reflection. Because of the stress of the event I felt it was not in the interest of my best health. My biggest disappointment though, is not being able to work with my NBC colleagues, many of whom have become some of my dearest friends.
"It was the best decision," Durkin added. "It was a classic case of sitting down and making a list of good points and bad points, and good point number one was 'Would I like to live longer?' I'm not sure I had to go much beyond that."
Durkin, 60, had been affiliated with NBC Sports for 27 years. Durkin, who has called the last 30 Triple Crown races on network television, will continue to work as the announcer at the New York Racing Association’s three tracks–Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga. Durkin is under contract with NYRA through the fall of 2015.
Daily Racing Form reported that while NBC has not officially announced a replacement for Durkin, speculation centers on Larry Collmus, the track announcer at Gulfstream Park and Monmouth Park. “We will announce a replacement for Tom shortly,” Adam Freifeld, senior director of communications for NBC Sports, told DRF. NBC Sports will broadcast all three Triple Crown races through 2015.
Durkin, who called the first 22 runnings of the Breeders’ Cup for NBC, had called all three legs of the Triple Crown on television for different networks since 2001. From 1997-2000, he called the three races on radio. Durkin will still call the Belmont at his home track of Belmont Park, but that call will only be heard by on-track patrons.
In a prepared statement, Ken Schanzer, president of NBC Sports, said: “Tom Durkin is a legend. He is not only one of the great race callers of all time, but I have been honored to call him my friend for more than a quarter-century. While I regret he has made the decision to not call the Triple Crown for us, I understand it and wish him nothing but the best.”
Said Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports Group: “It’s rare in this business that you find someone who has such extraordinary talent, who works relentlessly, and never ceases to be the nicest person in any room he is in. We will truly miss Tom on our Triple Crown broadcasts.”