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Tom Durkin Steps Down As Triple Crown Announcer Because of Stress

Tom Durkin has called the past 30 Triple Crown races on NBC, but we’ll no longer be hearing his voice on the races because he’s decided to step down. The news was announced Tuesday afternoon and Durkin says he’s stepping down because of stress.

“It’s just the stress got to be too much,” Durkin said. “When you’re walking around with a pit in your stomach for three months a year, just a general bad feeling and nervousness. You look up stress in the dictionary or online, and I’m a classic case of it. Sometimes you have to look out for your professional life; more importantly, you have to look out for your personal life. This is a bad professional decision and a good personal one.”

As someone who’s broadcast on a national level (albeit for a much smaller audience), I can tell you the amount of hate mail and criticism received is tough to bear. I understand where Durkin is coming from and it signifies how bad this was for him to give up such a prestigious position.

If you have no idea where the stress would come from, just watch this video and you’ll understand. Think of broadcasting a major event like the Kentucky Derby as an athlete preparing for the Olympics. You train the whole year for just a two-minute long race and the whole country knows it if you fail. That’s a tough gig no matter how you view it.

Calvin Borel’s Ride on Mine That Bird Just Like His Kentucky Derby Victory on Street Sense

As much criticism as horse racing takes for supposedly being cruelty to animals, it’s hard to have seen the Kentucky Derby and not thought you were watching a sporting/athletic event. This was a race in its simplest form, one where animals were competing. Sure, you mix in jockeys whipping the horses, trainers injecting steroids, deaths on the track, and things begin to get kind of fuzzy, but the race itself on Saturday was pretty exhilarating. Specifically, jockey Calvin Borel’s ride on Mine That Bird to win the Derby was extremely impressive. Check out the race in its entirety below, and then skip ahead to the 8:20 mark to see Borel’s run on Mine That Bird as it compares to his ride to win the ’07 Derby aboard Street Sense. It’s pretty incredible:

If you heard the call on NBC, Tom Durkin was so stunned by the upset he didn’t even know Mine That Bird’s name until the race had already been won! Furthermore, to underscore the comeback ride by Borel, Durkin didn’t even mention Mine That Bird until the horse was out in front. Impressive ride by Borel. And a few quick cool facts about the gelding — he was purchased for only $9,500, and he got his name from the mare, Birdstone (’04 Belmont Stakes winner), and the dame, Mining My Own. Quite a nice pedigree if you ask me.