Friday, August 29, 2014

They're in the Gate for the Last Time-Tom Durkin

It's the final weekend for NYRA racetrack announcer Tom Durkin. Sunday will be his final day calling races at Saratoga (and any other track) as he retires. His last race call will be the Spinaway Stakes (2 year old Fillies).
This summer at the Spa I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of people I spoke to who were aware that Tom Durkin is retiring. The fact that so many fans know who Tom Durkin is and are aware he is retiring says something about Durkin. There are many adjectives you can use for Mr. Durkin and one of the best is memorable.
You know the sound of his voice, you know what he looks like, and you know his familiar phrases. Heck, I named this blog "They're in the Gate" after the phrase Mr. Durkin uses every time the last horse enters into the gate before a race. Listen this final weekend to how he says: "They're in the Gate"
The way he says it has the just the right mixture of enthusiasm and succinctness. I love it and it will long echo in my head.
And of course, there are the race calls himself.  We have the internet so Durkin's calls will not go away.
What I liked most about Durkin was his humor and sense of entertainment.  Have you ever watched other race calls on TVG, or your local OTB simulcast and been bored to tears by the calls. Of course you have. Durkin is smart enough to know that he is in the information business but also in the entertainment business. He could be very serious in his race calls, but when the moment called for a little fun, he knew it.
 He also knew when a big moment was here and called for a memorable call. A perfect example of this is Durkin's call of the Rachel Alexandra win in the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga. He knew many of the fans came to the track that day with one goal in mind-to see Rachel win. And when she did Durkin was ready with the big call.  I will never forget that call as the horses came around the final turn and Durkin says" A Dramatic Stretch Drive Awaits", and when she won, proclaiming "Rachel raises the rafters here at the Spa".

Simply the Best, enjoy your next venture Tom.