ESPN Racing Series Begins Mar. 22

"NTRA Racing to the Kentucky Derby" launches with

“NTRA Racing to the Kentucky Derby” will air on the ESPN networks beginning March 22 as the racing industry counts down to the 2008 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), the National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Jan. 10.

The series provides coverage of several key Triple Crown prep races, including the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) from Gulfstream Park, the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) from Keeneland and the $1 million Arkansas Derby (gr. I) from Oaklawn Park.

Beginning with live coverage of the Lane’s End Stakes (gr. II) from Turfway Park in Florence, Ky., NTRA Racing to the Kentucky Derby will offer six major races from four different tracks. The series will conclude with a Triple Crown special airing from Louisville’s Churchill Downs two days prior to the Derby.

Last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense made his final start before the Run for the Roses in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. The 2007 Arkansas Derby winner, Curlin, went on to capture the Preakness Stakes, the Jockey Club Gold Cup (gr. I) and the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge (gr. I).

“We are proud to again partner with ESPN in bringing racing fans key contests leading up to the Kentucky Derby,” said Alex Waldrop, President and CEO of the NTRA. “Later in the year, we will be announcing a comprehensive package of summer races, also to be televised on the ESPN family of networks.”

The following is the schedule for the 2008 NTRA Racing to the Kentucky Derby Series (subject to change): 

Date, Race/Event, Time, Track (all times EST)
Mar. 22, Lane’s End Stakes, 6:00-7:00p.m., Turfway Park
Mar. 29, Florida Derby, 5:00-6:00 p.m., Gulfstream Park
April 12, Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, 5:30-7:00 p.m., Keeneland
April 12, Arkansas Derby, 5:30-7:00 p.m., Oaklawn Park
April 12, Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III), 5:30-7:00 p.m., Gulfstream Park
April 19, Coolmore Lexington Stakes (gr. III), 5:00-6:00 p.m., Keeneland
May 1, Triple Crown Special, 4:30-5:30 p.m., Churchill Downs