Monday, May 9, 2011

Collmus Roars in Triple Crown Debut

--Jessica Martini 

   I suppose the most exciting thing about the Kentucky Derby shouldn’t be the track announcer, but I have to admit I was pretty psyched to hear that Larry Collmus had been tabbed to succeed the legendary Tom Durkin as the voice of this year’s Triple Crown. And not just because he’s a great race caller in his own right.

I’ve been lucky enough to be friends with Larry since well before My Wife Knows Everything met The Wife Doesn’t Know and the announcement that he’d be calling the Kentucky Derby for NBC took me back (more than) a few years. I remember my first day as a summer intern in the Monmouth Park publicity department, struggling to figure out both the phone system and my new co-workers, all the while pretending I wasn’t nearly as clueless as I felt.

After answering one of my early phone calls, I put the nice man from Suffolk Downs on hold and yelled out, "This guy is looking for someone named Larry ... Collmus?" The late, great Steve Schwartz, head of publicity at the time, was kind enough to retort, while nodding in Larry’s direction, "You mean our new star-in-the-making track announcer? That Larry Collmus?"

Larry Collmus - (Bill Denver/AP)
Welcome to Monmouth Park.

It wasn’t the greatest introduction, but I did get to work next to Larry in the Monmouth press box for the next two summers. And I enjoyed every minute of it--from his killer Trevor Denman impersonation to his absolute disdain for making PA announcements from the booth. There was a certain Heather in the security department at Monmouth who would drive Larry insane with her requests, even calling mid-race to make sure that Eddie Squankum knew he’d left his car lights on.

I hear Larry has mellowed a lot since the days when Heather Insecurity’s page requests could make his head explode, but he’s still a damn fine race caller. The Triple Crown is lucky to have him.

Great job at the Derby, Larry. See you in Baltimore!

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