Lost And Found Presented By LubriSynHA: Durkin ‘Blown Away’ By Fan Admiration In Retirement

Racehorses have long been focal points for Tom Durkin. Since retiring from his 43 years as a track announcer, Durkin keeps those passions in the forefront but in different locations.

Most of the time Durkin resides in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., but escapes for part of the winter to the somewhat milder climate of Pinehurst, N.C., a village in a parallel universe to his year-round residence. The similarities include exceptional golf courses, historic racehorse facilities and scenic surroundings. The Pinehurst venue, which specializes in Standardbreds, was part of the attraction for Durkin.

“I used to spend my winters in Tuscany from around 2000 to 2010,” Durkin said. “Then I started going to Naples, Fla., but it got too crowded. My sister is in Pinehurst and I have friends there.”

His buddies include a few of his Standardbreds and their people, who he visits during training hours. An avid harness racing fan, Durkin enjoyed great success as co-breeder and co-owner of Coraggioso, a 21-time winner who banked nearly $700,000 and has become a productive sire.

Durkin’s holdings extend to Thoroughbreds. As an equity partner in West Point Thoroughbreds since retiring in 2015, Durkin had a “minuscule” interest in Always Dreaming that paid dividends by giving Durkin access to the Kentucky Derby winner’s circle. His role in West Point’s business development and partner relations is just one of the many activities that keep him closely connected to the Thoroughbred world. Another is his role as a tour guide at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame during the racing season.

“I love it,” he said. “I am a horse racing nut and a bit of a history nut. When I first retired, I thought I would go back to Florence, Italy and be a tour guide. When I lived there, I would see these guides going around and I would stand behind the group and soak up what they were saying. So, I know as much about Florence and Renaissance art as any tour guide. I am a performer at heart. That is basically my nature — to get in front of people and talk to them. It might be about a painting, the history of Seabiscuit or the cultural history of racing in America via the outlet I have at the museum.”

Another outlet for Durkin’s affinity for entertaining is acting. His voice-overs include a canine in “All Dogs Go to Heaven” and race callers in other movies. While a theater major at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin, he appeared in school productions. He has not done a play since 2015, when he was both Mr. Macy and the drunken Santa Claus in “Miracle on 34th Street” at the Spa Little Theater on the grounds of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

“I have been looking for parts,” he said. “I prefer comedy. If anybody has a part for me in the area, I’ll do it. The part has to be for a guy who is 70 and has a certain look.”

That certain look is easily recognizable during the Saratoga racing season.

“I will be walking down the street and someone I have never met says hello or has something nice to say,” he said.

His fans are particularly engaging at the museum.

“When I retired, I did not expect what I got in terms of affection,” he said “It blew me away. I had no idea that was coming. Racing fans are passionate about the sport. And the depth of that passion and how many people love it is something that I did not quite realize. I’ve had people recite some of my race calls verbatim. A lot of them I have no recollection of whatsoever. It might be because they cashed a trifecta or exacta or longshot—I get a lot of those.”

Durkin is mindful of his unexpected celebrity status.

“I am a much better-behaved person in Saratoga than I am elsewhere,” he said. “If someone cuts me off in traffic in Manhattan, I’ll give them the finger right there. In Saratoga, I just smile back. I don’t want someone saying that I gave them the finger—this is a small town and word travels fast which makes me a socially better person.”

Durkin’s popularity and professionalism might best be summarized by his many prestigious honors most notably the 2014 Eclipse Award of Merit for lifetime achievement.

“I was happy for what I was able to do and for as long as I did it at that level,” he said. “No one has been more fortunate than I have in many respects. In my next life, I want to come back as me.”

The post Lost And Found Presented By LubriSynHA: Durkin ‘Blown Away’ By Fan Admiration In Retirement appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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