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"I am a racetrack announcer. It is who I am," he said. "I call the Kentucky Derby. My profession's greatest stage, but now that is no longer true."
"I was getting ready to chisel in stone what deserved to be chiseled in stone," he said.
"It's something I have dealt with a long, long time and the cumulative effect finally got to me," Durkin, 60, said Wednesday morning by telephone.
The night before that call, Durkin wanted to be prepared for a transcendent performance. So he took a surveyor's tape out to the track and measured 31 lengths, Secretariat's record setting margin of victory in 1973. He then made a mark on the rail so that if Smarty Jones turned in a record setting performance he could tell the audience immediately.
Durkin has called the past 30 Triple Crown races and was at his best when Real Quiet in 1998, and then Smarty Jones in 2004, were caught at the wire of the Belmont Stakes and failed to complete a Triple Crown sweep.
Finally, this week, after calling the Derby 13 times, nine of them for NBC, Durkin surrendered. He did not renew his contract as NBC's announcer of the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, racing's Triple Crown events. What began with a flush of panic in 1987 as Ferdinandand Alysheba dueled to a photo finish in the Breeders' Cup Classic, grew steadily into a debilitating anxiety by 2005.
"I've even, heaven forbid, tried diet and exercise," said Durkin, a big and gregarious man.
And the job of calling the Derby, it seems, was so mentally taxing that it helped produce Durkin's greatest career gaffe. In 2009, he missed the eventual Derby winner Mine That Bird a horse that had gone off at odds greater than 50 1 rushing up the rail in the stretch until the final strides.
Panic quiets voice of the Triple Crown
Though he will continue to call other races, his decision to leave the Triple Crown is no small loss, for Durkin's mellifluous baritone and vivid narration had, in real time, provided the soundtrack for the history of modern thoroughbred racing. Nike Football Shoes For Kids
Among the first to reach out to Durkin was Dave Johnson, who was Nike Soccer Cleats Hypervenom Black
But three weeks ago, as the finishing touches were being put on his contract, Durkin said he felt the adrenaline and heartache and tension roaring inside.
Like Durkin, Collmus' routine is all about "remembering and forgetting and remembering again."
"Those three races, though, are like being up to bat with a 3 2 count in Game 7 of the World Series," he said. "I had to get out from underneath the heavy stuff."
It was not an easy decision. In January, he told Ken Schanzer, president of NBC Sports, that he wanted out of the Derby. Two sleepless days later, Durkin called him back and said he had changed his mind.
Up until three weeks ago, he was studying horses for identifying blazes and stars, watching video of races around the country, and preparing the flash cards he studies right up until the race.
"It's like you're getting hit on the head with a hammer, and you do everything you can to make it better you take aspirin and put a bandage on it. But eventually you got to take your head out from beneath the hammer. Life is too short and precious."
Instead, the prospect of calling the race has, every year, prompted months of anguish as Durkin tried to muster the serenity to hold it together and conjure an Football Cleats 2015
Durkin said he knows what he is giving up is nothing short of his identity. He will continue to call races at Belmont, Aqueduct and Saratoga through 2015, but he is giving up the opportunity to describe Barbaro soaring to victory in the 2006 Derby or to describe the tragedy of the colt breaking down two weeks later in the Preakness Stakes.
Because for the past decade, The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports, as the Derby is known, has been anything but for one of the signature voices of thoroughbred racing.
"And Smarty Jones enters the stretch to the roar of 120,000!" he intoned. "But Birdstone is going to make him earn it today! The whip is out on Smarty Jones! It's been 26 years. It's just one furlong away! Birdstone is an unsung threat! They're coming down to the finish! Can Smarty Jones hold on?! Here comes Birdstone !"
accurate and evocative word picture for the chaos that is 20 horses thundering around a mile and a quarter oval. Last year in Louisville, in fact, Durkin was stretched out on a psychiatrist's couch days before the race undergoing hypnosis in the hope of conquering his performance anxiety.
Durkin has soldiered through as many as 2,000 races a year for nearly 34 years but has been tormented by the three Triple Crown races that in total span less than seven minutes.
Larry Collmus, who will replace Durkin on the NBC telecast, said he understands the rigors of racing and is about to experience the heightened expectations of national television. He has called some big races for television Soccer Cleats 2017 Release Dates the Florida Derby and Haskell Invitational and found the spotlight unnerving.
LITTLE ROCK Tom Durkin is no longer studying photos of Uncle Mo, Dialed In or any of the probable contenders to win next month's Kentucky Derby. He is not packing his binoculars and notebook of more than 2,000 adjectives and phrases, the palette and paints of the track announcer's craft, for his annual trip to Churchill Downs.
"Accuracy is paramount. Lots of people are invested in the horse. You paint a picture until they get to the wire. Then they are gone out of my head after five seconds, and a new batch goes in."
He also called the first 22 runnings of the Breeders' Cup for NBC.
"We study the colors and silks for the upcoming races, and you get anywhere from six to 12 names in your head," said Collmus, who is the announcer at Gulf stream Park in Florida and Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
the voice of 24 Derbys, dating to Affirmed in 1978.
"I wish I could get that one back," Durkin said.
"You are the unerasable audio history of a race with a 20 horse field," Johnson said.
He has taken medication, tried prayer and breathing exercises, and has read everything and anything about what, for him, has been a paralyzing dread including how Sir Laurence Olivier developed stage fright in his 50s and often was shoved onto the stage.
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