ESPN, Racing Strike Deal on TV Coverage Through 2008

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Triple Crown Productions, and ESPN have reached an agreement to renew multiple horseracing series and special-event programming through 2008.

The agreement extends ESPN's two major live racing series on ESPN and ESPN2: "Citgo Racing To The Kentucky Derby," a nine-show series featuring the key prep races for the VISA Triple Crown, and the "Road To The World Thoroughbred Championships," a 17-show series of prep races from the U.S., Canada, and Europe for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.

The agreement also renews ESPN's event programming for each of the VISA
Triple Crown races, 40-plus hours that includes live telecasts of stakes on the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes undercards; live telecasts of the Kentucky Derby post-position draw and Preakness post-position draw; live telecasts of the Kentucky Oaks, Black-Eyed Susan and Acorn Stakes on the Friday preceding each Triple Crown event; and other live programming, including pre- and post-race coverage.

The extension also covers the recently revamped weekly magazine show, "Long John Silver's Wire To Wire," formerly known as "RaceHorse Digest," and event programming such as the annual Eclipse Awards show.

"At a time when a sustained, cohesive television presence is a competitive must for all major league sports, we are excited to continue our long-term partnership with ESPN and the ESPN family of networks," NTRA commissioner Tim Smith said. "This long-term commitment from ESPN gives us the ability to recruit additional corporate marketing partners for horseracing."

A schedule of 2002 "Road To The World Thoroughbred Championships" programming will be announced in June. The series began in 1992 as "Racing to the Breeders' Cup."