The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) on Thursday unveiled an expanded, nine-show "CITGO Racing to the Kentucky Derby" series for 2003, airing on the ESPN networks and providing comprehensive coverage of key VISA Triple Crown prep races.
Beginning with live coverage of the Grade I Fountain of Youth Stakes and the Grade II Hutcheson Stakes from Florida's Gulfstream Park on February 15, "CITGO Racing to the Kentucky Derby" will present 17 races, including 12 that will air live. In 2002, the series featured 14 races, seven of which were live. Among the 2003 highlights will be live telecasts of four Grade I races (Fountain of Youth, Florida Derby, Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial).
The series also features seven Grade II events and four Grade III stakes. Races will emanate from 10 different venues in seven different states. The series culminates with a Triple Crown special, airing on April 27, just six days prior to the 129th "Run for the Roses" at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
"With more races and more live racing than ever on the CITGO series, fans will enjoy the most complete, up-to-the-minute coverage of all the horses on the road to the Kentucky Derby," said Chip Campbell, NTRA senior vice president – television and sponsorship.
ESPN's 2003 horseracing coverage begins with a special on the 32nd annual Eclipse Awards, which recognize the sport's top equine and human performers and are highlighted by the announcement of the Horse of the Year. The Eclipse Awards ceremony will be held on January 27, 2003 at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. The Eclipse Awards special will air on ESPN2 on February 2 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. (ET).
Date Network Time (ET) Event Site
2/2/03 ESPN2 2-3 p.m. Eclipse Award Special (1/27) Regent Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills, CA
*CITGO RACING TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY
Date Network Time (ET) Race Grade Division Track
2/15/03 ESPN 5-6 p.m. Fountain of Youth (LIVE) I 3-year-old Gulfstream Park
Hutcheson Stakes (LIVE) II 3-year-old Gulfstream Park
3/9/03 ESPN 6-7 p.m. Louisiana Derby II 3-year-old Fair Grounds
El Camino Real Derby (3/8) III 3-year-old Golden Gate Fields
3/15/03 ESPN2 4-4:30 p.m. Florida Derby (LIVE) I 3-year-old Gulfstream Park
3/16/03 ESPN2 4:30-6 p.m. San Felipe Stakes (LIVE) II 3-year-old Santa Anita
Tampa Bay Derby (LIVE) III 3-year-old Tampa Bay Downs
Gotham Stakes (LIVE) II 3-year-old Aqueduct
3/22/03 ESPN2 4-5 p.m. Lane's End Stakes (LIVE) II 3-year-old Turfway Park
Rushaway Stakes 3-year-old Turfway Park
4/5/03 ESPN 5-6 p.m. Santa Anita Derby (LIVE) I 3-year-old Santa Anita
Illinois Derby (LIVE) II 3-year-old Hawthorne
Aventura Stakes (LIVE) 3-year-old Gulfstream Park
4/12/03 ESPN 3:30-4:30 p.m. Wood Memorial (LIVE) I 3-year-old Aqueduct
Bay Shore Stakes (LIVE) III 3-year-old Aqueduct
4/19/03 ESPN2 6-6:30 p.m. Coolmore Lexington Stakes II 3-year-old Keeneland
Federico Tesio Stakes III 3-year-old Pimlico
4/27/03 ESPN2 1-2 p.m. Triple Crown Special
*Schedule subject to change.