Anne M. Eberhardt

NBC's Road to the Ky. Derby Begins Saturday

Six Derby preps will be televised over the next three weeks

NBC Sports’ “Road to the Kentucky Derby” begins this Saturday with two graded stakes races serving as preps for the Kentucky Derby Presented By Yum! Brands (gr. I). Live action from the Louisiana Derby (gr. I) at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, and the Lane’s End Stakes from Turfway Park in  Kentucky begins Sat., March 27 at 5 p.m. ET on USA Network.

The hour-long broadcast is hosted in Louisiana by Tom Hammond alongside three-time Derby winning rider Gary Stevens. The NBC Sports broadcast team also includes reporters Kenny Rice and Donna Brothers from New Orleans with NBC Sports handicapper Mike Battaglia and horse racing analyst Jill Byrne providing additional coverage and analysis live from Turfway Park in Northern Kentucky.

Saturday’s coverage will include a special feature on well-known jockey and Louisiana native Robby Albarado, who will take viewers to his favorite “Big Easy” haunts for a look inside New Orleans’ famed culinary scene.

Said Stevens about the Louisiana Derby, “Discreetly Mine is definitely a quality horse. He is coming off a huge run in the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby will say a lot about his capabilities of going a mile-and-a-quarter.  I also like Ron The Greek and think that he is a horse that is definitely going to move forward.  He looks like he is just now getting set and is a horse that is on the rise.”

The newly launched “Road to the Kentucky Derby” television series, produced in partnership by NBC Sports and Churchill Downs Inc., will air the next three consecutive Saturdays with live coverage of six Derby prep races. 

The series will also give viewers at home a sense of the spectacle surrounding a day at the races, including snapshots of the fashion, food, and famous faces to draw viewers into the social scene that makes racetracks the ultimate source for entertainment. This big-event strategy helped the 2009 Kentucky Derby be the most viewed Derby in two decades. 

The broadcast schedule for the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series is as follows:

SATURDAY, MARCH 27 (USA Network, Fair Grounds, 5-6 p.m. ET):
•         Louisiana Derby, 1 1/8 miles, Fair Grounds
•         Lane’s End Stakes, 1 1/8 miles, Turfway Park

SATURDAY, APRIL 3 (NBC Sports, Santa Anita, 5-6 p.m. ET):
•         Santa Anita Derby, 1 1/8 miles, Santa Anita
•         Wood Memorial, 1 1/8 miles, Aqueduct

SATURDAY, APRIL 10 (NBC Sports, Keeneland, 5-6 p.m. ET):
•         Arkansas Derby, 1 1/8 miles, Oaklawn Park
•         Blue Grass Stakes, 1 1/8 miles, Keeneland

While viewers take in the action at home, on-track fans will have the chance to enjoy the “DreamBet” of a lifetime. Churchill Downs Inc. will sponsor a special promotion at each of the broadcast host tracks for the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series, allowing on-track patrons to enter a drawing for the opportunity for a free $10,000 wager on the broadcast host track’s race. A winning fan will be drawn at random during the course of the racing program at each broadcast host track.  Churchill Downs will then place a $10,000 “win” wager on the horse the winning contestant at each host site selects in the following races:

• Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on March 27
• Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park on April 3
• Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Race Course on April 10.
Viewers at home can watch to see if the contestant wins big as the race unfolds.  For more information and to review official rules for each “DreamBet,” Sweepstakes visit