A tribute from one of his many fans to long-time Card fan Luke Kruytbosch, the veteran track announcer at Churchill Downs and Ellis Park, who recently died of cardiac arrest at his Evansville residence:
I can only start with the first time I met Luke. It was pre 9/11, and he was calling the spring meet at Churchill Downs in June, 2000.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â We were sitting in one of Churchill’s bars after the races, discussing our luck (and lack of it) in wagering when one of our group pointed him out and told us who he was. Undaunted, and fueled by a couple of white zinfandels, I made my way to the bar stool he was perched on, and asked him if he had any opinion on the races coming up the next day.
With a twinkle in his eye, and jovialÃ‚Â chuckle, he informed me that he didn’t do much handicapping, he was a race caller, and more familiar with the California circuit. But, he took my advance program for the next day…thumbed thru it and circled a couple of horses. Then, he warned me that track conditions would have a lot to do with his picks, offered to buy me a drink and invited me to come up to his announcers’ spot the next day and watch him call a race. We became casual friends after that, and he had a pet nickname for me that I won’t mention here, which he would use whenever we’d run into each other at Churchill.
Luke loved Cardinal sports, football in particular, and saw his share of games during the Smith and Petrino eras. I remember how he once spoke admiringly of Stephen LeFors’ talents, and the amazing power of Michael Bush. Luke also admired fellow race callers Tom Durkin and Kurt Becker, and indicated that some day he’d like to return to Hollywood Park and finish out his career as a race caller…but not until current track announcer Vic Stauffer retired.
One of my favorite stories about Luke involved the way he called a race. As the horses would approach the legendary Churchill Downs stretch, Luke would passionately announce that the horses were set down for the stretch drive. We had a visitor go to the trackÃ‚Â with us several years ago, and I noticed she would sit down every time the horses would arrive to the stretch, a time when most race track followers begin to get the most excited about a race. I asked her why she did that and she matter of factly told me that she was just following the track announcers instructions to “sit down for the stretch drive.” I told the story to Luke, who enjoyed it so much he later retold it to the Daily Racing Form.
Unfortunately, I missed the last couple of racing days at Churchill Downs this spring and did not get the chance to say goodbye to my friend before he departed for Ellis Park’s summer meet. It’s hard to believe I won’t see him again, or heard that rich baritone smoothly report the progress of a race, but his rich legacy and professional attention to duty will always rate him up there with my favorite track announcers of all time.
You’ll be missed Luke, and I know that your legend and lore will live long past the 47 years you shared with us here on earth below.