Horsing around with track announcer Tom Durkin
On May 4, Tom Durkin, 51, will call the Kentucky Derby on NBC.
SI: If you drank a couple of mint juleps before the Derby, would
Durkin: By past performances I would say yes.
SI: Will you bet on the Derby?
Durkin: Absolutely, but not with both fists. I still have to
hold my binoculars.
SI: Have you ever used binoculars to watch people in the crowd?
Durkin: There are 24 minutes between races. What do you think I
do all day?
SI: Is Charlsie Cantey your colleague's real name?
Durkin: Charlsie is real. It's the Cantey part I'm not sure
SI: Who's the more annoying horse owner: George Steinbrenner or
Durkin: George Steinbrenner. He fired me once. [The Boss canned
Durkin two decades ago while Durkin was calling races at Tampa
Bay Downs, which was owned by Steinbrenner.]
SI: Who's the better Triple Crown winner: Seattle Slew or Frank
Durkin: Slew. He only had one chance. Frank Robinson had his
entire career to do it.
SI: Have you used the phrase "And down the stretch they come" in
your personal life?
SI: You once worked as a golf club salesman. Would Big Bertha be
a good name for a horse?
Durkin: It would be better than Pink Putter.
SI: You have homes on Long Island, in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.,
and in Florence? You must have some bon vivant lifestyle.
Durkin: It makes up for living in a trailer for four years.
SI: Do you think jockeys wear Jockey underwear?
Durkin: In the same way that boxers wear boxer shorts.
SI: Were you tricked into seeing All the Pretty Horses by the
Durkin: I never saw the movie. It sounded like a chick flick.
SI: Have you ever called a race between a man and a horse?
Durkin: No, but one time at a county fair in Wisconsin I called a
race between a horse and a car.
SI: Could you handle the call of a three-horse race among She
Sells Seashells, Flat Fleet Feet and Shiningcityshoes?
Durkin: Yes, if I had six mint juleps. --R.D.
COLOR PHOTO: STEVEN D. FREEMAN/NBC Tom Durkin