NBC Sports kicks off coverage of horseracing's 3-year-old picture Saturday with a 90-minute telecast of "NTRA's Road to the Kentucky Derby." The show will air from 4:30-6 p.m. (ET) and will feature live coverage of the $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I) from Keeneland.
The program will also include a recap of 2-year-old champion Johannesburg's sole Derby prep race last Sunday in Ireland, a recap of the 2002 Triple Crown prep season, and a comprehensive preview of the upcoming Run for the Roses.
"NBC's first-time coverage of the Triple Crown in 2001 led to a ratings increase that exceeded expectations, and we hope to build on that positive momentum," said NTRA Commissioner Tim Smith. "By the conclusion of Saturday's telecast, viewers will be familiar with virtually every contender for the Kentucky Derby."
Saturday's telecast will feature NBC's Triple Crown broadcast lineup: host Tom Hammond, analysts Mike Battaglia and Bob Neumeier, and commentator Charlsie Cantey. Hammond, Battaglia, and Cantey will report from Keeneland, with Neumeier at Aqueduct to give an update of the Wood Memorial and talk about the Derby's top East Coast contenders.
The show's final half-hour, previewing the leading contenders from around the country, will take place before a live audience in the Keeneland sale pavilion, where Hammond, Battaglia, and Cantey, joined by Neumeier from New York, will focus on the 20 horses they rate as most likely to go to post at the Derby on May 4.
"NTRA's Road to the Kentucky Derby" culminates two and one-half hours of two-network live racing coverage that begins at 3:30 p.m. with a one-hour telecast of "CITGO Racing to the Kentucky Derby" on ESPN. The ESPN program will present live coverage of the Wood Memorial.