Following the new “Summer at Saratoga” and “Autumn at Keeneland” horse racing series that premiered this year on both NBC and Versus, the NBC Sports Group has announced a spring horse racing series that will lead up to the First Saturday in May which is when the Kentucky Derby is held and marks the first leg of the Triple Crown. NBC, NBC Sports Network and CNBC will air prep races that will thin out of the field and provide the three year old contenders for the 2012 Kentucky Derby. Among the races that NBC has obtained the rights to include the Santa Anita Derby, the Wood Memorial, the Arkansas Derby and the Florida Derby. NBC Sports Network will be on for the first two programs followed by NBC and then CNBC rounds out the package.
We have details from the NBC Sports Group.
THE JOCKEY CLUB PARTNERS WITH NBC SPORTS GROUP AND RACETRACKS TO BROADCAST “ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY” SERIES
Four Consecutive Weekends on NBC, NBC Sports Network and CNBC in the Spring of 2012
NEW YORK – November 8, 2011 – The Jockey Club, in collaboration with the NBC Sports Group, CNBC and six racetracks, will provide live coverage of six major prep races for the 2012 Kentucky Derby over four consecutive weekends next spring, it was announced today.
The series will be highlighted by a 90-minute live broadcast on NBC featuring the New York City Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park on April 7, 2012.
The other four Kentucky Derby prep races are the Spiral Stakes from Turfway Park on March 24 and the Florida Derby from Gulfstream Park on March 31, both of which will air on the NBC Sports Network (which will be renamed from VERSUS on Jan. 2, 2012), and the Blue Grass Stakes from Keeneland Race Course and the Arkansas Derby from Oaklawn Park, which will air on CNBC on April 14.
“The Jockey Club is proud to work with our television and racetrack partners to bring more of our sport’s best racing to a national audience,” Ogden Mills Phipps, Chariman of The Jockey Club said. “Increasing the television presence of Thoroughbred racing is just the first step in a long term, multi-media strategy focused on fan retention and development. Together with racetracks and other industry organizations, we plan to aggressively cross-promote Thoroughbred racing on a variety of traditional and new digital media platforms.”
“These races are important steppingstones to the Kentucky Derby,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network. “And this programming further demonstrates the NBC Sports Group’s commitment to the sport of Thoroughbred racing, which already includes long-term deals for the Triple Crown races as well as with Saratoga and Keeneland.”
Increased television coverage of Thoroughbred racing and the development of a new digital media strategy were among nine recommendations identified in the major economic study of the Thoroughbred industry that was commissioned by The Jockey Club, and conducted in association with the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, earlier this year. The findings and recommendations were announced in August at The Jockey Club’s Round Table Conference in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY COVERAGE (All Times ET)
Saturday, March 24, 2012, 5-6 p.m. (NBC Sports Network)
Spiral Stakes and Bourbonette Oaks (Turfway Park)
Saturday, March 31, 2012, 5-6 p.m. (NBC Sports Network)
Florida Derby and Gulfstream Oaks (Gulfstream Park)
Saturday, April 7, 2012, 4:30-6 p.m. (NBC)
New York City Wood Memorial (Aqueduct Racetrack) and Santa Anita Derby (Santa Anita Park)
Saturday, April 14, 2012, 6-7 p.m. ET (CNBC)
Blue Grass Stakes (Keeneland) and Arkansas Derby (Oaklawn Park)
That will do it.