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New Churchill Downs Track Announcer Prepares For 'Horse Race of Horse Races'

2013 Derby shot via Wikimedia Commons
Steve Ryan/WIkimediaCommons
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Kentucky Derby

This Saturday night, Travis Stone will make his debut as the new track announcer at Churchill Downs.

A week later, he’ll call the biggest race in sport—the Kentucky Derby—before a crowd of more than 150,000 people.

Stone is just the eighth person in the track’s long history to hold the job, and at age 30, is also the youngest.

He met with the Louisville media on Thursday.

A native of Schroon Lake, New York, Stone said he developed a love of racing as a small child, spending summers with his family at another famous track, Saratoga Race Course.

It didn’t take long for him to set his sights on becoming racing announcer.

“I would race matchbox cars around my parents floor," he said. "I used to race marbles. I had a very sophisticated marble racing association when I was like 9 years old. I used computer games and videos from the internet to just constantly call races."

On the first Saturday in May will realize his dream of calling the Kentucky Derby.

Stone says he’ll be ready for his big debut.

"Somebody asked me this morning if I was nervous," he said. "I’ll let you know in a couple of days, because I’m sure with each passing day the anxiety will grow a little bit more.

"At the end of the day I just love horse racing and it’s great to be here, and obviously the Kentucky Derby is the horse race of horse races."

Stone succeeds Larry Collmus as the Churchill Downs track announcer. Collmus left the post after just one year for a job with the New York Racing Association. He’ll continue to call the Derby for NBC.

Rick Howlett is host of WFPL's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." Email Rick at rhowlett@lpm.org.