Pimlico Race Course and the Maryland horse-racing industry took another publicity hit late last week as ESPN confirmed that it will drop the showing of the entire Preakness Day card before NBC’s coverage of the May 16 race, according to a story in Thoroughbred Times
The day of horse racing on ESPN showcased both Baltimore and Pimlico in the hours leading up to the second jewel in the sport’s Triple Crown. No ESPN network will show any race during Preakness week from Old Hilltop in 2009.
The network had shown the pre-Preakness race card the past few years, and it also produced a feature-heavy live show called “Breakfast at Pimlico” on Preakness morning.
WBAL-TV will continue to have its’ three-hour local Preakness show prior to NBC’s telecast and will have post-race analysis after the national telecast ends.
It’s not the only reduction in horse racing coverage during the sport’s peak time, according to the Thoroughbred Times, as ESPN has also cut six hours of coverage from the Kentucky Derby in Louisville. Last year, the network showed 11 hours of coverage from Churchill Downs during Derby week, but has cut that number to five hours, including the pre-Derby card, on May 2. The Derby broadcast itself remains on NBC.
ESPN will also show five hours — the same number as 2008 — before ABC’s coverage of the Belmont Stakes on June 6.