On the final two Saturdays in March and the first two Saturdays in April, The Jockey Club, in collaboration with the NBC Sports Group and six racetracks, will provide live coverage of six major prep races for the 2013 Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) as well as a 30-minute special previewing the Triple Crown season.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby series starts with a 30-minute special previewing upcoming 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 begin Saturday, March 30, with the Besilu Florida Derby (gr. I) from Gulfstream Park and the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) from Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on NBC Sports Network from 6-7 p.m. ET.
The series will conclude on Saturday, April 13, with two and half hours of continuous coverage spread across two networks. A 90-minute live broadcast on NBC featuring the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes from Keeneland Race Course will be followed by a one-hour broadcast on the NBC Sports Network featuring the Arkansas Derby (gr. I). The NBC telecast will air from 4:30-6 p.m. ET; the NBC Sports Network telecast 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, in a release. "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," added Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network, in a statement.
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)