Magna to Launch 24-Hour Racing Network This Summer

Magna Entertainment plans to a launch this summer a 24-hour horse racing network that promises to educate and entertain viewers.

The channel will be called HorseRacing TV and should be available nationally through satellite and cable television, though those deals are still be negotiated, according to Jim McAlpine, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian racing conglomerate.

"The idea is to liven things up and give more information to the fans," said McAlpine, who mentioned the network Thursday during a panel discussion about account wagering during the University of Kentucky's National Equine Law Conference in Lexington. "It won't be just how to bet, but who the stars are--the trainers, the jockeys, the horses. Whatever it takes to make it more entertaining to the customer."

Magna now broadcasts live racing through the Racetrack Television Network, which is a satellite-based system offering eight channels of races from one of Magna's 11 horse and dog tracks and from tracks owned by Greenwood Racing. Greenwood is a partner in the network along with Roberts Communication.

The Racetrack Television Network is an expensive service. The hardware and installation cost $450 and the service is $100 per month. McAlpine said it was too early to talk about the price of HorseRacing TV.

"The cost will be determined in each market by the distribution," McAlpine said. He also said he he could not discuss who may be distributing the new network.

Magna also is developing a national off-track betting network that involves dramatically improving its 26 OTB parlors and putting them all under a single brand name.

"There are not many good OTBs around the country," McAlpine said. "They need be enjoyable places where a guy feels good bringing his girlfriend or two women feel safe and comfortable going on their own."

Long term, McAlpine said Magna hopes to expand the network by lobbying for states to ease restrictions on new OTB development.

"It's all about getting closer to the customer," McAlpine said.