(Reuters) - Larry Collmus has called American horse racing’s Triple Crown for NBC since 2011, but he is probably best known for what would have remained an obscure race if not for a confluence of factors that set in motion what became a viral video.
On a soggy summer’s day in Monmouth, New Jersey in 2010, two horses in the same race had similar names — one named Mywifenosevrything and the other Thewifedoesntknow.
As fate would have it, the two horses vied for victory down the home straight, which enabled Collmus to have a bit of fun with it.
“They’re one-two, of course they are,” he called, his voice building toward a crescendo as he continued, “Mywifenosevrything in front, to the outside Thewifedoesntknow! Mywifenosevrything! Thewifedoesntknow!”
And as they hit the line he capped off the call in style.
“Mywifenoseevrything, more than Thewifedoesntknow! Whoo!”
Collmus, speaking to Reuters ahead of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby, admitted the commentary was purely spontaneous.
“I realized 15 minutes before the race they were in the same race together,” he said in a telephone interview. “I thought, ‘just get it right. Don’t mix the names up’.”
While now part of the sport’s zeitgeist, Collmus would rather be remembered for calling the sport’s biggest races.
“I thought a couple of friends might text me and say they heard my call and it was funny. I guess it turned out a little more than that.”
Collmus will have a more serious game face on for Saturday’s race in Louisville, where his television audience will number in the millions rather than a few thousand.
His adrenaline level when the starting gates spring open is likely to approach that of the jockeys.
“The pressure of calling the Kentucky Derby and the whole atmosphere of it, it doesn’t go down with experience,” he said.
“It seems to stay the same every year leading up to the race, with the sweaty palms, trying to steady the binoculars as much as you can.
“You have to be on your game every time. Control that heartbeat is all I can try to do.”
Gone are the days when he would memorize a jockey’s colors from a race program.
“I call off an IPad now instead of an actual printed program.
“I draw all the jockey silks myself right next to the horses’ names so I know what they are going to look like when they come on the track.
“If for some reason (during a race) a name doesn’t come into your head right away you can take a glance and see those colors right next to the horse and grab it pretty quick. It’s a great memorization aid to me.”
Collmus, who claims to have a poor long-term memory, has been lucky enough to document some of the most momentous moments in the sport.
In 2015 American Pharoah became the first horse in 37 years to win the three races that comprise the Triple Crown – the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes – while Justify accomplished it last year.
For non-purists, however, Collmus will forever be linked like an old married couple to Thewifenosevrything and Thewifedoesntknow, although, the 52-year-old is a bachelor.
“That probably makes it even funnier,” he said.
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Greg Stutchbury