Sabtu, 07 Mei 2011

Collmus relishes opportunity to call Triple Crown

Racing Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert is fond of saying that his colleagues often overthink while preparing for the Kentucky Derby (G1). For announcer Larry Collmus, there is no such thing.

Collmus will call his first Kentucky Derby as the new announcer for NBC Sports’ coverage of horse racing. His duties also include the Kentucky Oaks (G1), Preakness Stakes (G1), and Belmont Stakes (G1).

“I think you have to prepare more for bigger races just because they are bigger races and none are bigger than this one,” Collmus said on Friday. “I’ve been preparing for this Derby since I learned I was going to call it. I’m watching tapes of the horses in the race as well as tapes of previous [Derbys].”

Collmus replaces Tom Durkin in the booth. The New York Racing Association announcer will continue his regular duties at those tracks, but he gave up his place in the NBC booth because of concerns over anxiety.

“The brain does so much work during a race, you wonder how it handles all that information at once,” Collmus said. “I’m trying to keep focused and my emotion in check. I’ll write down a few thoughts about what I might say under certain circumstances but because this is my first Derby. I don’t want to get too cute.”

Collmus said he most relies on silks to help him determine the identity of the field. His plan is to call all 19 horses down the lane the first time. He expects the field to be about a half-mile into the race before completing that task, and then he will return to calling the action on the front end.

“It’s unrealistic to call the whole field more than once,” said Collmus, who added he has not called a race with more than 14 starters. “You watch what happens on the lead and out of the corner of your eye would like for Dialed In or Nehro or a late runner. You watch as much as you can and try to tell everyone what’s happening.”

As if calling his first Derby is not enough, Collmus has a homecoming to look forward to on May 21 when he returns to Maryland to call the Preakness. Collmus called his first race at Bowie, and he spent a few years as the back-up announcer on the Maryland circuit.

“I told NBC, obviously the Kentucky Derby is a huge thrill for me, but I’m just as excited to go to Baltimore,” Collmus said.

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