How the memorable call took place

Rich Strike, winner of the Kentucky Derby in 2022, only mentioned his name twice in the entire race: once in the running race … a hundred years.

Of all the spectacular events that took place on Saturday’s epic Derby – the horse took $ 30,000, second entry, 80-1 shot, second runner-up – the final performance of NBC commentator Larry Collmus was the best song, rejoicing and disbelief all at once.

“Rich Strike is coming in!” Colmus called. “Oh my gosh! The -” and this is where the horses crossed the finish line – “the long shot won the Kentucky Derby! Rich Strike has done it! Amazing, incredible frustration! ”

Calling horse races is a masterpiece, which is why NBC joins Collmus and does not rely on one of the game-and-play broadcasters to get in with a parachute and sing. Saturday showed exactly why Collmus has the highest level of performance in horse racing: years, preparation weeks, fixed hours, fixed minutes, and seconds of massive fun, all led to singing that will be re-sung as long as Derby runs.

“I would say this was one of my top 10, because of the excitement at the end of the race,” Collmus said Monday. “I don’t know if I can put an American pharaoh and the Righteous on the Triple Crown, but the Kentucky Derby is always a big one.”

Although they host thousands of competitions a year, Collmus begins preparations for the Kentucky Derby weeks in advance. They look for a derby competition at Derby to determine which horses might be running in the race, looking for symbols of their style and breed. Does it start fast? Are they too close? Any plan can be necessary on the first Saturday in May.

Preparation includes “knowing the style of the runners, the front runners, the rear horses, the position of the posts. When the horses get on the tracks, you want them to be your best friends. ”

About 10 days before the race, Churchill Downs sent Collmus PDF of all jockey skirts – colors and special patterns – to each horse. He prints them all out to make small cards that he will use next week at Derby, until he can identify and see what kind of horse joke he is wearing. This, as it may be, became a major step forward in 2022.

A day before Derby, wrinkles: Ethereal Road exits Derby, opening the door for Rich Strike to enter. This caused quite a stir in the betting markets, but not at all for Collmus.

Collmus said: “I studied with him. “He was fit for the race, so I had him on my flash cards. As soon as Ethereal Street started, I lost my flash card in the trash. ”

With less than 24 hours to go before the race begins, Collmus is getting ready. He is slowly depicted as a horse and a rider, after all. So he takes Ambien to calm the running horses in his mind, and on the morning of the race day, he will have several cups of coffee to get rid of the whirlwinds. From there, with water and light food until shipping time.

He said: “The most difficult part of the job is controlling your nerves. “This is the most important competition of the year. You’re calling history. It’s always behind your mind. It takes effort to stay calm. ”

Nature helps. Collmus could have the best seat in the entire Churchill Downs: seven stories above the finish line, inside a small cottage behind a thick glass. It has binoculars, monitors, headphones that shut down most – but not all – the noise of 147,000 people screaming like one.

Minutes before the race starts, he breathes deeply, and keeps himself as calm as possible. “I’ve done it 12 times,” she says, “and it has not gone away.

And then they leave, and all the training and preparation comes. Collmus works alone, with no spectators – “very disruptive” – ​​and switches back and forth between the binoculars and the controllers in front of it show what’s going on.

He said: “Mostly, it’s binoculars. “You want to rely on your vision, not on what someone else is showing you.”

On Saturday, Collmus performed his usual performance throughout the field – this is the first time in two that he named Rich Strike, when the horse was in 17th place – and then looked at the leaders. When he got to the front, the race seemed to be coming.

He said: “When Zandon came near the Epicenter, I thought, ‘Well, go ahead, this is the two of us waiting.’

Collmus’ eyes went out – and that’s where the opponents often came from – and he mentioned Simplicity, a horse that could finish fourth. Immediately, another horse came running in. With just enough time before the race was over, Collmus named Rich Strike for the second and final time.

“Fortunately for me, he was the only horse that had red and white silk,” says Collmus. “A lot of people thought it was Happy Jack (number 2 horse), but the jockey was wearing black and yellow.”

Larry Collmus, seen here at Pimlico, has hosted the Triple Crown competition for 12 years. (Karl Merton Ferron / Getty Photos)

Collmus admitted he was a little surprised by the Rich Strike run, but again, so did the rest of the world.

He said: “I wish I could get her right away. “He moved forward fast. It was so much fun the way he did it. It was a time when you were not prepared. ”

When his work was completed, Collmus exhaled as the specialist waited for the flowers and the Churchill Downs team tried to fix what they had just seen. “As soon as the competition is over,” he says with a laugh, “I get ready to go for a drink, wine, anything.”

In the course of his career, Collmus estimates that he will win 75,000 races. These are the many names of horses to be corrected, and for that reason, they promote the philosophy of “remembering in the bathroom” – to fill, to empty, to refill.

“Every day, I invite 10 contestants,” he says. “I don’t want any competition to be in my head for the next race.”

Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person. One of his most memorable non-Derby phones came during the 2010 race at Monmouth Park. The top two horses had names that were very different: “My Wife Knows Everything” and “Wife Does Not Know.” This led to a fast-paced singing that sounded like an inner man:

The winner? “My Wife Knows Everything,” of course.

Collmus will be on the mic for the next two episodes of Triple Crown, as he did since 2011. If Rich Strike wins Preakness and has a historic chance at Belmont Stakes, Collmus will be there to tell the story of the millions. see at home. If that happens, he will have something to plan for in advance, but otherwise, he will let the competition come to him.

He said: “When I was with the American Pharaoh, I knew that I was about to do something that had not happened for 30 years.“ I decided what I wanted to say. But often this is not the case – there is a lot going on, more horses to think of seductive words. You want to focus on the positive, ”even when things change.

“That’s right,” he says, “and Job 1.”

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 07: Jockey Sonny Leon rides Rich Strike (21) to win 148 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Brian Spurlock / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

LOUISVILLE, KY – MAY 07: Jockey Sonny Leon rides Rich Strike (21) to win 148 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Brian Spurlock / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact or follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee.

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