I have read every article, listened to the many race calls that have captured my heart, and watch Saratoga every chance I get. There is no secret that Tom Durkin is walking off into the sunset, but the thought of a legend hanging up his tack has me in a reflective mood.
We like to think there is a “creative bug” that lays inside our imagination, and spills out the sweetest of words with the greatest of ease. Not the case for many. And yet, for the lucky few, it is like a fine cigar smoldering ghostly swirls next to a fine cognac. But enough of my attempts, and back to someone who can lead the pack.
I was reading a Thoroughbred Racing Commentary article by the talented Teresa Genaro. Durkin detailed how he became enthralled with his love of language. There before our eyes was a peek into how the student became the master. Reading the article made me appreciate the old school education that once was common among young students. Durkin fell in love with Latin, and gives full credit to Father Joseph Wren for his love of the Romance languages. But it wasn’t a quick phrase, or a smooth presentation that held my attention. It was how Tom Durkin spent his time before the third race every day in his announcers booth.
Durkin was a long-time member of (B.E.S.T) – Backstretch Employees Service Team. For over six years, he allowed up to six lucky observers to pay $100 to watch and listen to him call the third race. All monies collected went to better the lives of backstretch workers of Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga. He estimated there has been over $200,000 contributed. Durkin may be hanging up his mic and drifting off to a villa in Italy, but before we say out final farewells. Maybe we should kindly ask the man to voice the needs of the many.
For those who are in need, and for the many without representation. How about having that familiar voice speak to our heart for years to come? We’re not making Mr. Durkin go back to work just yet. But before he walks off into the setting sun in a far away place, Durkin’s sweet tones could be used to bring attention to the sport he has loved for so long. Racing needs help, and who better to voice the needs than the man who has held our attention for years? Think of a voice-over artist who details the upcoming movies that will take us on a journey. Now think of Tom Durkin as a spokesman for retirement foundations for Thoroughbred racing, and the behind the scene workers who dedicate their lives to equine athletes. Who would better fit the bill? Who have we listened to with child-like amazement? There could be a second act for the man who has been such an integral part of the game, but not before he has his final few days doing what he loves. Take time if you haven’t already and listen deeply. Drink it in like a fine wine, or taste the sweetness of his tones for a final time.