SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. -- Larry Collmus grew up with one career goal in mind -- calling races -- and in his book New York is as good as it gets.
Since 2011 he's been NBC's "Voice of the Triple Crown," calling the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, and beginning next spring he'll handle similar duties for New York Racing Association at Aqueduct, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course.
Collmus, 47, a Maryland native, replaces long-time track announcer Tom Durkin, who will make his last call on Sunday, Aug. 31.
"When you're a kid growing up and you want to be a race caller you want to be here," Collmus said Wednesday, his voice choked with emotion. "This is the mecca of horse racing. It's just terrific to be here and the thrill of a lifetime.
In addition to the Triple Crown, he will continue doing Breeders' Cup races for NBC, a job he's held since 2012. Collmus is currently employed at Churchill Downs where he'll stay until November. He plans to spend winters at Gulfstream Park in Florida, before heading north to close out the Aqueduct spring meet, followed by Belmont, Saratoga and the Belmont fall meet.
Following Durkin's retirement, NYRA Director of TV Production John Imbriale will call this year's fall Belmont meet and continue as the main race caller at Aqueduct, except for the month of April.
NYRA President and CEO Chris Kay introduced Collmus Wednesday during a news conference at the Saratoga Race Course Carousel Restaurant.
Collmus fell in love with the sport after going to Timonium Race Track in Maryland, where his father had installed a new sound system. Before long he began hanging around the announcer's booth at Pimlico, practicing mock races. One day, the track's general manager heard him and said: "Who's that kid upstairs? Let's give him a chance to get started."
Collmus wound up calling his first race at Maryland's former Bowie Race Course in 1985, at age 18.
Since then, he's worked his way up the ladder at places such as the Birmingham Turf Club, Golden Gate Fields, Suffolk Downs, Monmouth Park and Aqueduct before going to Gulfstream where he's been since 2007.
"It's an honor to be the guy who's following Tom Durkin," Collmus said. "His calls brought the excitement of the game to another level."