BALTIMORE, 05-18-11---The childhood dream come true reaches another pinnacle for Larry Collmus Saturday.
Weaned on thoroughbred racing at four Maryland tracks, Collmus comes home to call the state's biggest race, the 136th edition of the Preakness Stakes, two weeks after his Triple Crown debut for NBC-TV at the Kentucky Derby.
"It's sort of real and sort of surreal," said Collmus, a 1984 graduate of Mount St. Joseph High. "I haven't called a race here in 25 years and now I'm going to call the Preakness. That's pretty cool, as good as it gets. The great part is getting the Kentucky Derby out of the way. Now, it's like old home week."
Collmus is the successor to Tom Durkin, who vacated the job after 13 years. Since he was a youngster, being a race announcer is all Collmus ever aspired to be and after re-creating events at Timonium, Bowie, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course nearly everywhere he went, he has climbed to the top of his profession while working at tracks throughout America.
Most recently, he has plied his trade at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and Gulfstream Park in Florida.
He patterned himself after the legendary Dave Johnson when he started, noting "I probably sounded more like him early on, but then it became a mish-mash of a couple guys with my own style mixed in."
The case of nervous energy that he felt before the Derby will re-appear Preakness Day despite all the preparation Collmus is undergoing, including 10 days of studying the silks of the Preakness runners.
"If you're not nervous, you're not doing your job correctly," he said this morning from the Pimlico. "In Kentucky, I think I was all right after I got through “My Old Kentucky Home”. It was very, very exciting, but you try to stay focused. You don't want to rush things and you want to be clear, so people understand what you're saying. When they hit the wire I said 'wow, it's over and I've done it.'"
He will be doing his job outside from the roof of the press box for the first time and spent part of the week acclimating himself to the view. And the 100,000 expected at Pimlico will be hitting a crescendo when he intones: "And into the stretch they come," which he labels "kind of my thing."
Collmus said he won't bet on the big race. "I'll just be calling,'" he declared. "I've already won."
But his family will not be on site to share his biggest Maryland moment. "They'll stay home," he said. "On track here, Dave Rodman has the call. Nothing against Dave. He's excellent. But the family will want to hear my call."
PREAKNESS STAKES ON THE NBC SPORTS GROUP
Friday, Preakness Classics, 3-4 p.m., VERSUS
Friday, Black Eyed Susan Stakes, 4-5 p.m., VERSUS
Saturday, Live from Pimlico, 2:30-4:30 p.m., VERSUS
Saturday, Preakness Stakes, 4:30-6:30 p.m., NBC
Saturday, Preakness Wrap-up, 6:30-7 p.m., VERSUS
COMMENTATORS: NBC Sports coverage of the 136th Preakness Stakes is co-hosted by Bob Costas and Tom Hammond alongside two-time Preakness winner Gary Stevens. NBC Sports’ broadcast team also includes race-caller and Baltimore native Larry Collmus; contributing analysts/handicappers Mike Battaglia and Bob Neumeier; reporter Kenny Rice and on-track reporter Donna Brothers.
Added for this year’s expanded coverage are Laffit Pincay, III, son of Hall-of-Fame jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr., who will host the coverage on VERSUS; veteran horse racing analyst Randy Moss; and the Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman.
PRODUCTION TEAM:The coverage of the Preakness Stakes will be produced by Fred Gaudelli and directed by Drew Esocoff, NBC’s Emmy Award-winning “Sunday Night Football” production team. The VERSUS coverage will be produced by Rob Hyland, who has worked on the network’s horse racing coverage since 2001 and also produces NBC Sports’ Notre Dame Football, and directed by “NHL on NBC” director Jeff Simon. The executive producer of NBC Sports and VERSUS is Sam Flood who has produced 11 Triple Crown races for the network.