Viewership numbers for the Breeders' Cup Classic nearly doubled from 2011 as NBC got a 2.0 rating for its primetime coverage of the 2012 event, up from a 1.0 rating the Classic received on ESPN a year ago.
Without Zenyatta, TV ratings on ESPN2, ABC, and ESPN all fell in 2011 with Saturday's Breeders' Cup program suffering the most damage.
Great weather is expected for the Breeders' Cup World Championships, which will air on ESPN2 Nov. 6, and ABC and ESPN on Nov. 7.
Breeders' Cup announced Sept. 14 that ESPN will televise three days of Breeders' Cup Challenge stakes in October in advance of the Nov. 6-7 World Championships at Santa Anita Park.
ESPN and ABC will offer seven hours of Belmont Stakes (gr. I) coverage starting at noon ET--including ABC's two-hour race broadcast June 6 at 5 p.m.--as jockey Calvin Borel attempts to complete an unprecedented personal Triple Crown.
Live coverage of the $300,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. II), a 1 1/16-mile test for 3-year-olds at Keeneland, is the main attraction on this week's fourth and final installment of "NTRA Racing to the Kentucky Derby."
The Breeders' Cup and ESPN announced June 2 that the Oct. 24-25 Breeders' Cup World Championships from Santa Anita Park will receive an unprecedented nine hours of live coverage including, for the first time, 2.5 hours of live coverage on ABC.
The ESPN family of networks will set a record for length of Breeders' Cup coverage, with 9 1/2 hours devoted to the two-day Breeders' Cup event and a preview show Wednesday.
The 2005 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase (NSA-I), held Oct. 22 at the Far Hills in New Jersey, will be the subject of expanded television coverage in the United States and Great Britain this week.
"Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships Powered by Dodge," a four-month, 15-program series, will return on ESPN networks this weekend. Featuring 33 races in seven of the eight Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships divisions, the series concludes with a World Thoroughbred Championships special Oct. 28, the day before this year's Breeders' Cup at Belmont Park.
Prompted by Smarty Jones' immensely popular run at the Visa Triple Crown, the NTRA, NYRA, and ESPN have put together an extensive block of Belmont week programming.
The 33rd annual Eclipse Awards will air this Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern on ESPN2.
NBC Sports has won the Eclipse Award for National Television – Live Racing Programming for its production of the 2003 Preakness Stakes, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Jan. 14. Other media Eclipse Award winners were also named.
In order to gain live television exposure, the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) has been moved back a day to March 14.
Medaglia d'Oro and Breeders' Cup Classic (gr. I) winner Volponi are among a contentious field of eight older horses entered for Saturday's $750,000 Whitney Handicap (gr. I) at Saratoga Race Course.
"Seabiscuit -- The Making of the Movie, Presented by Equibase", a special, behind-the-scenes look at the production of the upcoming major motion picture "Seabiscuit," will debut July 2 at 4 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN2.
Seven 3-year-olds are slated to contest Saturday's grade I, $1,000,000 Florida Derby, Gulfstream Park's stop on the Triple Crown Trail.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has unveiled an expanded, nine-show "CITGO Racing to the Kentucky Derby" series for 2003.
Sunday's grade I at Hollywood Park is the first of 16 "Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships" broadcasts.
Saratoga's Test Stakes (gr. I), a $250,000 seven-furlong race for 3-year-old fillies, is this week's stop on "The Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships," the three-month racing series airing on the ESPN networks.
The $1-million Florida Derby, a major prep race for the Kentucky Derby, will air during a special segment on SportsCenter Saturday, March 10, on ESPN2. Airtime for SportsCenter on March 10 is 6:00-7:00 p.m. (ET), with wire-to-wire coverage of the Florida Derby scheduled to be shown approximately one hour after the live running of the Grade I race for 3-year-olds from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla.
According to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, this is the upcoming schedule for races on television:
The re-entry of Magna Entertainment's seven racetracks into the National Thoroughbred Racing Association is expected to have an immediate impact on the NTRA's winter television schedule on ESPN and ESPN2, beginning with its first telecast on Feb. 3. That telecast will feature the Donn Handicap (gr. I) from Gulfstream Park and the Strub Stakes (gr. II) and San Vicente Stakes (gr. II) from Santa Anita. Both tracks are owned by Magna, whose chairman, Frank Stronach, announced on Jan. 17 in a joint statement with the NTRA that he has made a two-year commitment to rejoin the organization.
ESPN and espn2 will expand their coverage of Saratoga racing from 1 1/2 hours to 2 1/2 hours beginning next year.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick -- In the Thoroughbred world's version of the hit television show "Survivor," my money would not have been on Jim Wilburn, the impresario for racing on ESPN and ESPN2, to make it past the first couple of meetings of the tribal council. But popularity and performance are two distinct variables.
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