40 Days of Durkin: Friday, July 25, 2014

In honor of Tom Durkin’s retirement from race calling on August 31, we are taking a look back at 40 of his most memorable calls–one for each day of the 2014 Saratoga meet.

Racing has seen many ideas aimed at increasing the visibility and popularity of the sport come and go over the years.  We almost exclusively focus on the bad, stupid or downright silly ones.  One idea that has worked fantastically is the Breeders’ Cup.  Proposed by John Gaines at the awards luncheon during the 1982 Kentucky Derby Festival, the Breeders’ Cup has grown into the second or third biggest event on the racing calendar (depending on whether or not there is a Triple Crown on the line at the Belmont).

Prior to the Inaugural Breeders’ Cup in 1984, they needed a track announcer.  In what turned out to be a stroke of genius, they passed over more established candidates and bigger names to hire Tom Durkin, who had been calling the races at Hialeah and other tracks like Florida Downs  and Balmoral Park.  For the next 21 years, Tom Durkin was the TV voice of the Breeders’ Cup.

Today, 40 Days of Durkin looks back at the first Breeders’ Cup Classic, in which Wild Again outdueled “the big horse” Slew O’Gold and Gate Dancer in an epic race that set the tone for the future of the Breeders’ Cup.

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