For avid Thoroughbred fans in the Chicago area, the road to this year's Kentucky Derby starts next week!
The Jockey Club, NBC Sports Group, along with six racetracks, will provide live coverage of six major prep races for the 2013 Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands, as well as a 30-minute special previewing the Triple Crown season during the last two Saturdays in March and the first two Saturdays in April.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby series starts with a 30-minute special previewing the televised races and the Triple Crown season. The special will air on the NBC Sports Network on Saturday, March 23, from 6 – 6:30 p.m. ET.
The racing telecasts kick off Saturday, March 30, with the Besilu Florida Derby from Gulfstream Park and the Louisiana Derby from Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on NBC Sports Network from 6 – 7 p.m. ET.
The Wood Memorial from Aqueduct Racetrack and the Santa Anita Derby from Santa Anita Park will air on NBC Sports Network on Saturday, April 6, from 6 – 7:30 p.m. ET.
The series will conclude on Saturday, April 13, with two and half hours of continuous coverage spread across two networks.
A 90-minute live broadcast on NBC featuring the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes from Keeneland Race Course will be followed by a one-hour broadcast on the NBC Sports Network featuring the Arkansas Derby. The NBC telecast will air from 4:30 – 6 p.m. ET; the NBC Sports Network telecast will air from 6 – 7 p.m. ET.
All six races fall into the highest tier on Churchill Downs’ new points system to determine starters for the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 4, on NBC. The points system features 36 stakes races overall and 17 marquee events for 3-year-old Thoroughbreds that comprise a 10-week run up to the first Saturday in May.
Increased television coverage of Thoroughbred racing and the development of a new digital media strategy were among nine recommendations identified in an economic study of the Thoroughbred industry commissioned by The Jockey Club in 2011.