Keeneland Racecourse announced June 18 it will become the first racetrack in North America to provide live race coverage and limited simulcasts in High-Definition format.
Keeneland is currently putting the finishing touches on a fully-equipped HD production center. It is the second step in a multi-year transition which includes the installation of infrastructure necessary to support HD technology, the purchase of Thomson Grass Valley HD cameras and production equipment, and renovation of the track’s existing video control room.
Keeneland will debut HDTV with the opening of its 2008 fall race meeting on Oct. 3. HD broadcasts of Keeneland’s live meet will be available via its on-track television monitors, infield LED tote board, and certain HD-compatible telecasts, such as those produced by ESPN.
“Sports fans are demanding more HD programming – it’s a dynamic format and one that is perfect for Thoroughbred racing,” said G.D. Hieronymus, Keeneland’s director of broadcast services. “Nothing rivals the excitement of being at the track but watching horse racing in HD comes close.”
Keeneland embarked on Phase 1 of the process in 2006, installing the infrastructure to support HD technology as part of the massive Polytrack renovation. At that time, Keeneland also formed a strategic alliance with Thomson Grass Valley, and purchased 10 LDK 4000 HD cameras which will be used this fall.
Phase 2 of the project, which is currently underway, includes renovation of the track’s video control room and the addition of state-of-the-art HD equipment that includes the 2,500th TGV Kayak video production switcher. Keeneland also recently acquired four additional TGV Ignite HDC robotic cameras, for a total of 14. Earlier this year, the track upgraded its Avid Adrenaline editing equipment to HD and added a Sony XD HD camera for field production.
Phase 3 calls for continued expansion of Keeneland’s broadcast capabilities, including construction of a broadcast facility complete with in-house studio; a radio broadcast facility; and the creation of a network to provide original programming covering all aspects of the sport, expanded Keeneland Classic Channel, replays of historic Thoroughbred film productions and re-broadcast of network Thoroughbred racing coverage.