In an effort to maximize television coverage of the Triple Crown series, a new post time of 6:04 p.m. (EDT) has been established for the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes, beginning in 2001.
Triple Crown Productions announced that the new post times, approximately one-half hour later that each race was previously run, coincides with NBC Sports broadcasting the races for the first time in 2001 as part of a five-year pact.
NBC Sports will present exclusive live coverage of each of the three races from 5:00-6:30 p.m. (EDT), beginning with the 127th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on May 5, 2001. The 126th running of the Preakness is scheduled for May 19 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md., and the 133rd running of the Belmont Stakes is set for June 9 at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y.
NBC also broadcasts the National Basketball Association playoffs during the Triple Crown season. As a result of racing being on the same network, the classics will no longer face possible time conflicts with the basketball telecasts. According to Triple Crown Productions, the network will promote the Visa Triple Crown races during its spring sports programming, including on NBA playoff telecasts. The 2001 renewals of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness will be followed on the NBC schedule by second-round NBA playoff games.
“Triple Crown Productions and its member tracks are excited about our relationship with NBC Sports and continue to be impressed with the commitment and energy displayed by the network as it works to build on the long tradition of success of the Visa Triple Crown,” said Thomas H. Meeker, president of TCP and Churchill Downs Inc.
“That rare oddity of two championship events facing one another head-to-head will no longer exist,” said Dick Ebersol, chairman, NBC Sports & Olympics. “The NBA playoffs have aired directly against the Kentucky Derby and Preakness for years. Now the fans’ choices will be enhanced. The largest possible audience can now watch the prestigious races of the Triple Crown.”