Over the past week, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) has been in the news with the Conan O’Brien-Jay Leno night time talk show controversy, but on Monday made more news. NBC Sports along with Churchill Downs Inc. announced a partnership to televise a half-dozen key prep races this spring leading up to the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1st.
Oh, you thought I was referring to the Indianapolis Colts… NOT! It’s the 3 year old thoroughbred colts.
The agreement calls for various one-hour broadcasts, including three on NBC and one on USA Network. The Derby prep races on the schedule are…
March 20th – Lane’s End Stakes at Turfway Park
March 27th – Louisiana Derby at Fairgrounds
April 3rd – Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita (duh!)
Wood Memorial at Aqueduct
April 10th – Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park
Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland
Each one-hour “Road to the Kentucky Derby” broadcast will feature the races and handicapping segments as well as lifestyle elements designed to broaden the audience.
Hence, NBC is betting on the fact that the thoroughbred horse racing fan base will grow thanks to the high profile victories of Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness and Zenyatta in the Breeder’s Cup Classic. This move is viewed has part of NBC positioning itself to win back all 3 legs of the Triple Crown…Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.