Keeneland, in collaboration with The Jockey Club and NBC Sports Group, will provide live coverage of the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1), on Saturday, April 13, from 4:30 – 6 p.m. ET on NBC. The 90-minute broadcast is part of the recently announced Road to the Kentucky Derby series spotlighting six major prep races for the 2013 Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby series starts with a 30-minute special previewing the televised races and the Triple Crown season. The special will air on NBC Sports Network on Saturday, March 23, from 6 – 6:30 p.m. ET.
The racing telecasts kick off Saturday, March 30, with the Besilu Florida Derby from Gulfstream Park and the Louisiana Derby from Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on NBC Sports Network from 6 – 7 p.m. ET.
The Wood Memorial from Aqueduct Racetrack and the Santa Anita Derby from Santa Anita Park will air on NBC Sports Network on Saturday, April 6, from 6 – 7:30 p.m. ET.
The series will conclude on Saturday, April 13, with two and half hours of continuous coverage spread across two networks.
The 90-minute Toyota Blue Grass broadcast on NBC, which begins at 4:30 p.m., will be followed by a one-hour telecast on the NBC Sports Network featuring the Arkansas Derby, which will air from 6 – 7 p.m. ET.
All six races fall into the highest tier on Churchill Downs’ new points system to determine starters for the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 4, on NBC. The points system features 36 stakes races overall and 17 marquee events for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds that comprise a 10-week run up to the first Saturday in May.
“The Jockey Club is committed to bringing some of our sport’s best races to a national television audience, and we are proud to be underwriting the Road to the Kentucky Derby again this spring in collaboration with the NBC Sports Group and six racetracks,” said Ogden Mills Phipps, chairman of The Jockey Club. “Increasing the television presence of Thoroughbred racing is one of the fan development initiatives we have embraced over the past 18 months, and we will continue to aggressively cross-promote Thoroughbred racing not only on television but also on a variety of traditional and new digital media platforms.”
“These important prep races build excitement and interest in the Kentucky Derby and they also complement the NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the sport of Thoroughbred racing, which already includes long-term deals for the Triple Crown races and Breeders’ Cup as well as races from Saratoga,” said Jon Miller, president, programming, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network.
Increased television coverage of Thoroughbred racing and the development of a new digital media strategy were among nine major 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 in 2011.
ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY COVERAGE (All Times ET)
Saturday, March 23, 2013, 6 – 6:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network)
Road to the Kentucky Derby preview show
Saturday, March 30, 2013, 6 – 7 p.m. (NBC Sports Network)
Florida Derby (Gulfstream Park) and Louisiana Derby (Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots)
Saturday, April 6, 2013, 6 – 7:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Network)
Wood Memorial (Aqueduct Racetrack) and Santa Anita Derby (Santa Anita Park)
Saturday, April 13, 2013, 4:30 – 6 p.m. (NBC)
Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (Keeneland)
Saturday, April 13, 2013, 6 – 7 p.m. (NBC Sports Network)
Arkansas Derby (Oaklawn Park)
QUOTES FROM RACETRACK REPRESENTATIVES:
Mike Rogers, president of The Stronach Group, Racing Division: “The Stronach Group is pleased that two of its signature events, the Florida Derby and the Santa Anita Derby, will be part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby, presented by The Jockey Club and NBC Sports Group. We look forward to having our world-class facilities at both Santa Anita Park and Gulfstream Park showcased on these historic days. We also look forward to watching the many Derby contenders stabled and training throughout The Stronach Group properties taking part in these exciting races in the weeks leading up to the Triple Crown.”
Tim Bryant, president, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots: “The Louisiana Derby has become more important than ever in the last three years since we raised the purse to $1 million and shifted the date to serve as a final Kentucky Derby prep. This year, we celebrate the race’s 100th running with a new Infield Festival to complement the richest day of Thoroughbred racing ever run in Louisiana. We look forward to sharing our version of Southern hospitality with a national television audience.”
Rodnell Workman, vice president and chief marketing officer, New York Racing Association: “NYRA is once again thrilled to be a part of the NBC Sports Group’s Road to the Kentucky Derby series. Nationally televising the 2013 renewal of Aqueduct’s Wood Memorial, and all of these important prep races, is great exposure for racing and we’re looking forward to working with the NBC Sports Group on this year’s broadcast.”
Bill Thomason, president and chief executive officer, Keeneland Association: “Keeneland is very excited to showcase the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes to a national television audience. We applaud The Jockey Club’s strategic initiative to create exposure for racing and give fans the opportunity to become familiar with its stars.”
Charles J. Cella, president, Oaklawn Park: “We appreciate The Jockey Club and the NBC Sports Group offering us a platform to showcase the $1 million Arkansas Derby to a national audience. This race has had a significant impact on the Triple Crown over the years with so many great horses, such as Sunny’s Halo, Pine Bluff, Smarty Jones and Curlin, and we’re excited to see who emerges this year.”
--ABOUT NBC SPORTS GROUP--
NBC SPORTS GROUP AND HORSE RACING: The NBC Sports Group is the exclusive home to the most important and prestigious events in horse racing, including the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup, which was broadcast on NBC from 1984-2005. NBC has been the exclusive home of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes since 2001, and the Belmont Stakes since 2011, when the NBC Sports Group reassembled the Triple Crown. In 2012, the NBC Sports Group presented 27½ hours of Triple Crown coverage across NBC and NBC Sports Network.
NBC Sports Group is the home to Summer at Saratoga, and, in collaboration with The Jockey Club, the Road to the Kentucky Derby series that provides live coverage of six major prep races for the 2013 Kentucky Derby.
--ABOUT THE JOCKEY CLUB--
THE JOCKEY CLUB: The Jockey Club, founded in 1894 and dedicated to the improvement of Thoroughbred racing and breeding, is the breed registry for North American Thoroughbreds. In fulfillment of its mission, The Jockey Club provides support and leadership on a wide range of important industry initiatives and it serves the information and technology needs of owners, breeders, media, fans and farms, among others. Additional information is available at jockeyclub.com.