LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - For just the seventh time in its history, Churchill Downs is welcoming an new track announcer. If you don't know the man, there's a good chance you already know his voice.
Larry Collmus has been the voice of the Kentucky Derby on NBC's worldwide telecast for the past three years.
"There's so many great announcers around the country and I'm just so happy to be the one guy that gets to call the race that everybody wants to call," he said.
Starting this year, he'll be pulling double duty as the new voice of Churchill Downs full time on race days while keeping that job with NBC.
"If you are not nervous calling the Kentucky Derby, there's something wrong with you," he said.
Despite three years doing it, Collmus said the jitters won't go away this year. He said, "You have this feel that everybody is listening to everything you say for the next two minutes and not only that, but for years and years to come."
He battles the Derby nerves with preparation. "In the Kentucky Derby, I start preparing probably around February, by watching prep races, looking at each individual horse," he said. "I want those horses that are running in the Kentucky Derby to be my best friends by the time they head on to the racetrack, where I don't even have to look at them."
Now he's got the added pressure of a full week's card. "You can't really sit back for the 4th race on Thursday and just mail it in," he said.
It was one of those so-called normal days that introduced Collmus to the non-horse racing fan. His call of a race at Monmouth Park in New Jersey went viral when Mywifenoseverything and Thewifedoesntknow battled it out in the stretch.
That may not even be Collmus' most amusing story. Here's how he remembers the sloppy Derby from last year, "I saw this covered-in-mud, barely could discern the colors but I could see red and white and in the split second, and I told people, I was 80 percent sure that that was Orb and so I went for it. Thank goodness it was the right horse."
Collmus' new co-workers aren't surprised he was right. They expect nothing less from the man now fulfilling a childhood dream.
"Over 30 years, he's built a reputation for a lot of things: excellence, being at the top of his profession, but also he is a great lover of thoroughbred racing," said John Asher, the Vice President of Racing Communications at Churchill Downs.
"Believe it or not, I wanted to be a track announcer since I was probably about 15 or 16 years old," Collmus said.
Collmus is only the third person to ever call the Derby both on-track and for the network broadcast.
He starts his new job officially at Churchill Downs when he calls the first race on Opening Night Saturday. Post time is set for 6 p.m.
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