This past Saturday, I attended the 146th running of the Belmont Stakes, along with about 100,000 other guests. Just getting onto the grounds was a test of perseverance. Traffic was backed up for miles.
However, I’m a pretty determined person, and wanted to see–and hear–history being made: not only by California Chrome winning the Triple Crown, but particularly by our friend, NYRA announcer Tom Durkin, making his final Belmont Stakes call before he retires.
And, what a test of perseverance it was. You see, Tom suffers from performance anxiety, something I have experienced up close in my own career. Like me, Tom puts his anticipatory anxiety to good use, trying to foresee every conceivable outcome to the advantage of his peers and his audience. The one big difference is, if Tom makes a mistake, it’s in front of millions. This is no easy task.
But Tom’s a determined person too. His preparation is superb—detailed to the Nth degree. He not only continuously studies a vast lexicon that he’s compiled over 30 years to vividly convey images with words, he also closely reviews racing videos and profiles of each and every horse. In addition, he consults a hypnotist and listens to taped sessions to calm and focus himself so he can deliver the best performance possible. All the signs of a true pro.
As far as the world’s concerned, Tom is the signature voice of American horse racing. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the kind of determination and grit that is America.
To be successful, you need to persevere—to move ahead in spite of your fears. To work smart and work hard. To—as in horse racing—compete against the best, and charge forward against all odds.
That’s what wins the race. That’s what gets you ahead. That is what has earned Tom his place in history along with a happy retirement.
So, here’s looking at you, Tom!
With much admiration,