USA: Spinaway brings curtain down on Durkin career

Tom-durkin

Commentator Tom Durkin calls time on his career at Saratoga

Preview: USA, Sunday 10.47pm BST (live on ATR)

Saratoga: Spinaway Stakes (Grade 1) 7f, dirt, 2yo fillies

MORE notable than any of the horses lining up for the Spinaway is the identity of the man behind the mike as the $350,000 contest marks the final call in the long, distinguished career of Tom Durkin.

The legendary racecaller was the voice of the Breeders’ Cup from its inauguration in 1984 until 2005, of the Triple Crown from 2001 to 2010 and of the New York tracks since 1990.

Now 63, he retires on Sunday after more than 43 years in the business. The New York Racing Association (NYRA) is celebrating his career by hosting the Sunday and Monday cards in his honour; a special ceremony will be held in the winner’s circle after is final call in the Spinaway.

“Tom Durkin is one of the greatest racecallers in history and we are fortunate to have had him with us here in New York for so many years, said NYRA president Chris Kay. “It is truly fitting to see Tom take his final bow in Saratoga, a place that he loves and where he is truly beloved.”

Chicago-born Durkin said: “I want to thank the tens of thousands of dedicated people, from the grooms to the jockeys to the trainers and owners, that help put on this exciting show, remembering as ever it is all about these magnificent animals.

“I was fortunate enough to have described the finished product. Most of all, I must thank the people that make everything possible – the racing fan. Thank you again from one lucky announcer.”

Leading contenders for the Spinaway, the first Grade 1 for two-year-old fillies on the east coast, include sales topper Lady Zulu (D Wayne Lukas/Luis Saez), who went for $1.2 million at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale, and 12-length maiden winner Condo Commander (Rudy Rodriguez/Joe Bravo).

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