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.
In 2001, television coverage of the Kentucky Derby moved from ABC to NBC. Though that change did not impact the fundamental glamor, prestige or status of the race itself, it did have one important consequence — Tom Durkin would be calling the race to a national TV audience.
Durkin took over from Dave Johnson, who had called the race for ABC since 1987. Fortuitously, the 2001 renewal of the Kentucky Derby turned out to be a race that allowed Tom Durkin to display the full range of his unsurpassed race-calling ability. The first half-mile was the fastest half mile in Kentucky Derby history, as the field rounded the far turn “the pent-up power of Point Given” loomed large, “Jorge Chavez got busy on Monarchos” as the field hit the top of the stretch, and three quarters went in 1:09 and 1. The call did not end as Monarchos drew away to a commanding win, however. The final time was 1:59 and 4/5, eliciting a final exclamation from Tom Durkin which was the perfect capstone to an incredible Run for the Roses.