A picture might be worth a thousand words, but if those words are coming from Tom Durkin, they command a far higher price.
Soporific. Obstreperous. Oracular. The kind of words that used to be called $10 words, SAT words, the kind of words that might get you a bemused look if you use them in conversation.
But when they come from the mouth of Tom Durkin, during an extemporaneous race call for which one can prepare only so much, the result is admiration, not confusion.
The love of language came before the love of racing, going back to high school and Durkin’s days in the Latin classroom of Father Joseph Wren.
“I was never a good student in anything I didn’t like or if I had a teacher I didn’t like,” he said one recent morning in his announcer’s booth, marking up his program as he does every day, with colors and shapes that echo the riders’ silks and act as mnemonic devices for his afternoon calls.
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Photo of Tom Durkin courtesy of NYRA/Adam Coglianese.