Tom Durkin has decided not to call the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, the triple crown of horse racing, because he has had it with the stress, reports The New York Times.
Durkin, who is considered the signature voice of U.S. horse racing after calling the highest-profile events for decades, chose not to renew his contract with NBC Sports. NBC will broadcast the 137th Kentucky Derby tomorrow, May 7, 2011, at 4 p.m. ET, without Durkin at the mic.
Durkin has called the three elite races for 34 years. "Those three races, though, are like being up to bat with a 3-2 count in Game 7 of the World Series. I had to get out from underneath the heavy stuff," he told The Times. "I am a racetrack announcer–it is who I am. I call the Kentucky Derby, my profession’s greatest stage. But now that is no longer true."
Durkin said he has been dealing with performance anxiety, and last year sought help from a hypnotist leading up to the Derby.