Roone Arledge.

Roone Arledge.

ABC Sports.

Former ABC Sports Head Roone Arledge Remembered

Thomas H. Meeker, president and chief executive officer of Churchill Downs Inc. and president of Triple Crown Productions, today issued the following statement regarding the recent death of Roone Arledge, chairman of the American Broadcasting Company's news division, who previously served as president of ABC News and ABC Sports during his storied career.

Arledge, died Thursday. He was 71. The creator of "Wide World of Sports," "Nightline" and "Monday Night Football" had had health problems for more than a decade and was battling cancer even before he retired in 1998.

"The CDI and Triple Crown families are deeply saddened by the death of Roone Arledge, who revolutionized network television's presentation of major sporting events, including the Kentucky Derby and Visa Triple Crown series of horseracing classics. Roone brought incredible imagination and innovation to broadcast television, and the sporting world owes him a debt of gratitude.

"Roone was at the helm of ABC Sports when the network first acquired broadcast rights to the Kentucky Derby in 1976, shortly after America's most prestigious horse race had celebrated its centennial running. In the Derby, Roone saw more than just a 100-year-old horse race. He saw tradition, romance, heroism and an endless supply of fascinating stories, many of them told by the incomparable Jim McKay. Under Roone's watch, the Derby broadcast blossomed into one of the most-watched, most engaging sports programs on the calendar; and America's most famous horse race truly secured its status as 'the most exciting two minutes in sports.'"