Tom Durkin will return to the announcers booth to call the Belmont Stakes Presented by NYRA Bets on Saturday, June 10, according to a press release from FOX Sports.
In addition to calling the Belmont Stakes, Durkin will announce all races aired during the network's Belmont Stakes Day coverage on FOX–scheduled for 4:00-7:30 p.m. Eastern. FOX Sports presents the Belmont Stakes for the first time in 2023 as part of the agreement establishing the network as the home of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival through 2030.
“This is yet another example of FOX' commitment to producing a dynamic broadcast of the Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets,” said NYRA Chief Revenue Officer Tony Allevato. “Tom Durkin's calls are synonymous with the very biggest moments in the sport, and his return to the announcer's booth will be a thrill for sports fans around the country.”
One of the most respected announcers in the sport, Durkin called some 80,000 races during his storied 43-year career, the last 24 years of which he spent as the NYRA announcer before his retirement in 2014.
“The Belmont Stakes has been an iconic part of sports culture for more than 150 years, “said Durkin. “There is nothing like the energy and enthusiasm around Belmont Park with a Triple Crown on the line. It is the apotheosis of excitement.”
“We are honored to have the legendary Tom Durkin return for the Belmont Stakes this year,” said FOX Sports President of Production/Operations and Executive Producer Brad Zager. “When it became official that an iconic piece of the historic Triple Crown would air on FOX, we knew it could only be complete with Tom's voice as the soundtrack.”
Born in Chicago, Durkin studied theatre at St. Norbert College and began calling races at county fairs in Wisconsin in the summer of 1971. In 1975, he moved on to announce at a string of small Midwestern tracks, before landing the job at famed Hialeah Race Course in 1981. Three years later, Durkin became the announcer for the Breeders' Cup, a position he held until 2005, and gained further prominence calling the Triple Crown for a decade beginning in 2001.
“The stretch duel of the 1998 Belmont Stakes remains the most thrilling race I have ever had the privilege to call,” added Durkin. “Those are the kinds of races and individual moments that stay with us forever, and I can't wait to give it another go come June 10.” Victory Gallop got up for a narrow victory to deny Real Quiet the Triple Crown, with Durkin saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words. This photo is worth five million dollars,” referring to what would have been Real Quiet's bonus payout for winning the Triple Crown.
Just prior to his retirement, The New York Times referred to Durkin as “the man widely considered the greatest race caller in the history of thoroughbred racing.” In 2015, Durkin was honored with the Eclipse Award of Merit for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in the sport of thoroughbred racing.
This year's Belmont marks the 50th anniversary of Secretariat's Triple Crown and his track-record setting performance in the Belmont, which he won by 31 lengths.