The first of three consecutive one-hour “Road to the Kentucky Derby” telecasts will air Saturday, March 27 on NBC Universal’s USA Network from 5-6 p.m. ET. The broadcast will showcase the Grade II, $750,000 Louisiana Derby from Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots in New Orleans and the Grade II, $500,000 Lane’s End from Turfway Park in Florence, Ky.
Churchill Downs’ “Derby Nation Road to the Kentucky Derby Viewing Parties” at PRIME Lounge, located at 104 West Main Street in the heart of Louisville’s downtown gallery district, will begin when doors open at 4 p.m. Guests age 21 and older will be admitted free of charge (no cover) and can enjoy $3 personal pizzas, 35-cent wings and a plethora of drink specials while watching the exciting Kentucky Derby prep races in an enjoyable party atmosphere. There also will be prize giveaways.
In January it was announced that Churchill Downs Incorporated reached a deal to partner with NBC Sports and present three broadcasts in the weeks leading up to the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands on Saturday, May 1.
Each broadcast will feature major Kentucky Derby prep races and handicapping segments along with lifestyle and entertainment segments designed to appeal to a broader audience and drive viewership of the Kentucky Oaks, Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown telecasts.
The 2009 Kentucky Derby on NBC Sports was the most viewed Derby telecast in two decades with more than 16.3 million viewers, good for 7.3 Nielsen rating with an 18 share and a 2.1 million jump in total viewership from 2008.
Following the “Road to the Derby” series launch on USA Network, broadcasts will shift to NBC for the Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial on April 3 and the Blue Grass Stakes and Arkansas Derby on April 10.
Restricted to 3-year-old Thoroughbreds, horses have only one chance to win the prestigious Kentucky Derby, and it’s quite an accomplishment just to receive a berth in the starting gate. More than 30,000 Thoroughbreds are foaled in North America each year, but only 20 are allowed to enter “The Run for the Roses” based on earnings accumulated in graded stakes races that comprise the “Road to the Kentucky Derby.”
With limited opportunities remaining and coveted graded stakes money on the line, serious Kentucky Derby contenders are likely to make their final start in advance of the Derby in one of the six 1 1/8-mile races to be televised on NBC Sports, which serve as a “playoff” series for entry into the Derby race itself. The outcome of each prep race will impact and help shape the Kentucky Derby field.
The “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series at a glance:
SATURDAY, MARCH 27 (USA Network, Fair Grounds, 5-6 p.m. ET):
· Grade II, $750,000 Louisiana Derby, 1 1/8 miles, Fair Grounds
· Grade II, $500,000 Lane’s End, 1 1/8 miles, Turfway Park
SATURDAY, APRIL 3 (NBC Sports, Santa Anita, 5-6 p.m. ET):
· Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, 1 1/8 miles, Santa Anita
· Grade I, $750,000 Wood Memorial, 1 1/8 miles, Aqueduct
SATURDAY, APRIL 10 (NBC Sports, Keeneland, 5-6 p.m. ET):
· Grade I, $1 million Arkansas Derby, 1 1/8 miles, Oaklawn Park
· Grade I, $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass, 1 1/8 miles, Keeneland
About Churchill Downs Incorporated
Churchill Downs Incorporated, (“CDI”), headquartered in Louisville, Ky., owns and operates four world renowned Thoroughbred racing facilities: Arlington Park in Illinois, Calder Casino and Race Course in Florida, Churchill Downs Race Track in Kentucky and Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in Louisiana. CDI operates slot and gaming operations in Louisiana and Florida. CDI tracks are host to North America’s most prestigious races, including the Arlington Million, the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks, the Louisiana Derby and the Princess Rooney, along with hosting the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a record seventh time on Nov. 5-6, 2010. CDI also owns off-track betting facilities, TwinSpires.com and other advance-deposit wagering channels, television production, telecommunications and racing service companies such as BRIS and a 50-percent interest in the national cable and satellite network, HorseRacing TV, which supports CDI’s network of simulcasting and racing operations. CDI’s Entertainment Group produces the HullabaLOU Music Festival at Churchill Downs Racetrack which premieres on July 23-25, 2010. CDI trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol CHDN and can be found at www.churchilldownsincorporated.com.
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