A new network to telecast horse races was unveiled Friday by Magna Entertainment Corp., Roberts Communications Network, Inc., and Greenwood Racing, Inc. The service effectively replaces the former satellite served called The Racing Network, which ceased operations last year after failing to sign up enough customers.
Cast members of the megahit HBO series "The Sopranos" were at Aqueduct Racetrack Monday taping an episode to be aired during next season's schedule. Among the more notable stars present in the Equestris dining room, where the scenes were shot, were James Gandolfini, who plays Tony Soprano, Steve Van Zandt, who plays Silvio, Joe Pantoliano, who was cast last year as Ralph, and Jerry Adler, who plays Hesh.
NBC Sports has won the Eclipse Award for National Television-Live Racing Programming for its production of the 2001 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
NBC, which enjoyed solid ratings in its inaugural year of covering racing's Triple Crown in 2001, partially due to cross-promoting the races with its NBA playoff games, will no longer be televising NBA games when its current contract runs out in the spring of 2002.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association unveiled its spring 2002 television schedule for Thoroughbred racing and outlined the full complement of programming planned for next year.
The five-hour Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championship telecast on NBC earned a 1.7 rating and captured 4% of the viewing audience. They were the lowest ratings the championship has ever received.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Breeders' Cup, and NBC Sports have agreed to a four-year extension that will keep the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships on NBC through 2005, officials from the organizations announced Tuesday at a press conference in New York City. The Breeders' Cup has been televised on NBC since it began in 1984.
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Thursday afternoon that racing broadcasts on NBC and CNBC have been canceled this weekend, but a program scheduled for ESPN will go on, with some adjustments. The changes are tied to Tuesday's terrorist attacks on New York City and the ongoing effects.
Belmont Park in New York will be closed Thursday and Friday, but the New York Racing Association said the track would be open for live racing Saturday. Meanwhile, the national broadcasts of stakes from Belmont this weekend were dependent on several factors, according to an official with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association.
Chip Campbell, who has a background in sports marketing and sponsorship, has been named senior vice president of television and sponsorship for the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. He will begin Aug. 1 and be based at the NTRA's New York office.
The Blood-Horse has learned that NBC's 2001 telecast of the Breeders' Cup October 27 will be lengthened to a five-hour program, representing an extra 30 minutes of coverage over previous years.
While NBC's Belmont Stakes telecast showed improvement over its Preakness effort, there seems to be a basic flaw in the 90-minute format of these classic productions -- the race comes too late in the show, leaving little time for replays, interviews, and analysis.
The NBC coverage of the 126th Preakness Stakes on Saturday delivered a 5.6 national rating/16 share from 5:00-6:39 p.m. EST.
The 5.6 rating represents an impressive 56 percent increase over last year's 3.6/10 on ABC and ties 1992 as the highest rated telecast since 1990 when it earned a 7.2/21. NBC's broadcast peaked from 6:00 - 6:30 p.m. with a 7.2/19.
They have similar hair styles and both train good horses, so perhaps Bob Baffert was beginning to panic when Kentucky Derby winner John Ward got all the air time to launch one-liners on NBC's coverage of the Preakness. With Baffert's Point Given knotting the score with Ward's Monarchos, however, expect a tight battle of witticisms for the upcoming Belmont.
NBC, which paid a reported $51.5 million to telecast the Triple Crown for five years and end a 26-year run for ABC, saw a 26% increase in the overnight ratings for Saturday's Kentucky Derby. In figures compiled by the A.C. Nielsen Co., the Derby garnered an 8.3 rating in 51 television markets nationwide and a 20% share. That's up from the 6.6 rating and 17 share the Derby received in 2000 on ABC.
Thoroughbred Classics Presented by the NTRA will feature 17 program this year, with the first segment focused on the Triple Crown. Thoroughbred Classics will debut Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. (EDT) on ESPN Classic with a retrospective on this Saturday's Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.
The show opens with a drumbeat, a horse running, and the words: "In the world of the thoroughbred, one thing you can count on is the unexpected." The show is "Thoroughbred," a 13-part series about life at Bonita Farm, the Boniface family's pride and joy in Maryland -- home to Deputed Testamony, winner of the 1983 Preakness. The first 30-minute episode begins at 8 p.m. (ET) Tuesday (April 3) on the cable channel Animal Planet. Subsequent episodes will be televised Tuesdays at that hour through June 19 (and also at 7 p.m. Saturdays).
Listings of racing on television and upcoming stakes.
Listing of televised racing and upcoming stakes races.
A schedule of stakes races and televised races for the weekend of Feb. 17-19.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick -- In its first three years, the NTRA has proven it can put out fires -- and there have been many. It's what happens next that is really important, because putting out fires was not what the NTRA's commissioner, Tim Smith, was hired to do. If Smith and his top aides no longer are required to spend most of their time and energy keeping the organization intact, we finally will be able to gauge how effective this national office for racing can be.
According to the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, this is the upcoming schedule for races on television:
This year's schedule, which runs through December, will feature more than 60 stakes from about 30 different tracks. The NTRA has released the schedule for the first quarter of 2001.
NTRA Productions has released the "Citgo Racing to the Kentucky Derby" series, which will feature 15 races that lead up to the first leg of the Triple Crown. The series begins Feb. 18 and concludes with a Triple Crown Special April 29.
Presentations of Horse of the Year, Trainer of the Year and Race of the Year highlight the inaugural TVG "Viewer Choice Awards" to be aired live on the TVG Network on Monday, January 29 from 9-10 PM EST (6-7 PM PST). Hosted by TVG anchors Caton Bredar and Greg Wolf, the ceremony will honor 14 categories of achievement in Thoroughbred, harness and quarter horse racing. The winners were selected through on on-line poll of TVG viewers, with over one million votes cast over a two-week period.
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.
- By Ray Paulick
By Ray Paulick -- One of the most obvious shortcomings of the 2001 racing season promises to be the loss from the television broadcast schedule of a number of important Triple Crown prep races.
Breeders' Cup lost ground in the battle to improve television ratings this year, and for the fifth consecutive year set a record low.
- 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.
FOX Sports would cut its Thoroughbred racing coverage at least in half next year if it renews a contract with Major League Baseball in late August.
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