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Preakness 2016: Derby winner Nyquist ready for another

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He’ll have another.

Happy, healthy and hangin’ in his new home, Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist is gearing up for another big race, the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore next Saturday.

With a victory, Nyquist would head to the Belmont Stakes in New York three weeks later with a shot at winning the Triple Crown. What a turn of events that would be for horse racing – a record 37-year drought between Triple Crowns followed by back-to-back Triples for only the second time in history.

“He’s full of energy, and looks fantastic,” Nyquist trainer Doug O’Neill said this week as his unbeaten Derby winner settles into his fourth new stall in the past seven weeks. “He should be ready.”

O’Neill likes to say one race at a time, but it’s difficult not to think of the glory that awaits if his brilliant 3-year-old bay colt wins his next two races. Especially since O’Neill, along with owner J. Paul Reddam and jockey Mario Gutierrez – has been on the cusp of history before.

In 2012, O’Neill won the Derby and Preakness with I’ll Have Another, but the horse was retired the day before the Belmont with a tendon injury. A year ago, American Pharoah swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont, a feat many consider the toughest in sports.

Like almost everyone else in racing, O’Neill saw how American Pharoah became the people’s horse, a calm, friendly and gentle colt that thrived on the attention. He’s hoping it can happen again with Nyquist.

“I thought the American Pharoah camp did a wonderful job, and having a horse that thrived on it (the attention) helped,” O’Neill said this week. “And I think Nyquist – they are big shoes to fill – has the ability to fill them if we were to get so fortunate and do what American Pharoah did last year.”

For his part, Pharoah’s owner Ahmed Zayat is all in.

“Let’s have another Triple Crown, back to back,” he said hours after Nyquist’s 1 1/4-length Derby win in a time nearly 2 seconds faster than American Pharoah ran.

But on to the Preakness, where a whole new set of challengers await. Unlike a huge 20-horse field in the longer 1 1/4-mile Derby, the second leg of the Triple Crown has a 14-horse limit, and is run at a shorter distance of 1 3/16 miles.

Back to take on Nyquist is Derby runner-up Exaggerator, a fast-closing second but an exasperating 0 for 4 against Nyquist. In the career debut for both, Exaggerator was fifth behind Nyquist, then fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, and second in the San Vicente prior to the Derby.

Kent Desormeaux, the brother of Exaggerator trainer Keith Desormeaux, says “a clear trip” is what it’ll take to turn the tables. The Hall of Fame rider was aboard for three of those losses, and claims he had a troubled trip every time. Which is why, he figures, “I still have a chance.”

Lani, who ran ninth in the Derby, is a definite for the Preakness, with third-place finisher Gun Runner still possible. Lani would become the first Japan-based horse to run in the Preakness.

The list of newcomers is long in a field that could total 12. It includes Laoban and Cherry Wine, a pair of colts who were on the Derby also-eligible list but did not get to run because no horses were late scratches.

Others looking for an upset include possible rising start Stradivari, Lexington Stakes winner Collected, Federico Tesio winner Awesome Speed, California Chrome Stakes winner Uncle Lino and Fellowship, who ran third behind Nyquist in the Florida Derby.

With Collected, trainer Bob Baffert is seeking a record-tying seventh Preakness win. He’s currently tied with D. Wayne Lukas. Robert Wyndham Walden won seven, including five in a row from 1878-1882.

Stradivari is trained by Todd Pletcher and will be ridden by John Velazquez. The lightly-raced son of Medaglia d’Oro will be making his second start of the year and his stakes debut – he’s 2 for 3 overall – but won his last two races by a total of nearly 26 lengths.

“We’re behind in experience and seasoning to quite a few of the competitors in there,” Pletcher said. “But from everything we’ve seen from a talent standpoint, he belongs.”

For now, there seems to be no horse in a class with Nyquist, a perfect 8 for 8 and a presumed heavy favorite when the post-position draw takes place on Wednesday.

Nyquist is the eighth undefeated Derby winner to run in the Preakness, and first since Big Brown won the first two legs in 2008 but was pulled up in the Belmont with a quarter-mile to go and did not finish.

“It looks like the field is going to be tough,” O’Neill said. “It’s going to be a full field and there are a lot of new shooters, so that’s always a concern. But our main focus is on Nyquist’s health. He looks great and has good energy coming off a big win in the Derby. It’s amazing how good he looks.”

Maybe good enough for another.

 

NBC to broadcast the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational in January 2019

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The Stronach Group Adds $7 Million Grade 1 Turf Stakes to Race Day Festivities

2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic Winner Accelerate to Run in 2019 Pegasus World Cup Invitational

NBC’s Live Coverage of the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series will be streamed on NBCSports.com & the NBC Sports app

STAMFORD, Conn. – Nov. 8, 2018 – NBC Sports Group has reached an agreement with The Stronach Group for exclusive United States media rights to the third annual running of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational on January 26, 2019 from The Stronach Group’s Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. Among the entries for the 2019 running of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational is 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Accelerate.

Building on the success of 2017 and 2018, The Stronach Group has expanded the 2019 event for both horse owners and fans by turning the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational into a championship series.  The Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series will include the $9 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1), to be contested on the dirt at 1 1/8 miles offering $4 million for the winner of the 12-horse field and the $7 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1), to be run on the turf at 1 3/16 mile. The Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational will replace the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap and aims to attract and showcase 12 of the best turf horses from around the world as they compete for a $3 million first place prize.

NBC will air a live 90-minute program featuring both the Pegasus World Cup Invitational and the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational. The broadcast will also showcase the Pegasus “blue” carpet, celebrity and live entertainment event elements from Gulfstream Park at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 26, 2019. All coverage will be streamed live on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs.

“The Stronach Group is thrilled to once again partner with NBC Sports to bring the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series to life,” said Belinda Stronach, Chairman and President, The Stronach Group. “Our live broadcast and streaming partnership with NBC Sports reflects our company’s commitment to collaborating with top tier partners to showcase the entertainment and excitement of this world-class Thoroughbred horse racing event.”

“We are excited to partner with The Stronach Group to kick off our 2019 horse racing coverage with North America’s richest race,” said Jon Miller, President of Programming for NBC Sports Group. “For the past two years, the Pegasus World Cup has thrilled viewers, and we’re honored to continue to present it to horse racing fans nationwide.”

Past winners of the Pegasus World Cup Invitational include Arrogate, the 2016 Eclipse Award Winning Champion Three Year Old Male and the top earning Thoroughbred of all time, and 2017 Horse of the Year, Gun Runner.  On the heels of an exciting Breeders’ Cup Classic win with Accelerate, trainer John Sadler’s next stop will be the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series where he has committed to spots on the dirt, with Accelerate, and on the turf.

In addition, The Stronach Group will offer a $1 million bonus to the owner who wins both the Pegasus World Cup Invitational and the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational and will be introducing a new race day wager, the Pegasus Pick 24.  The Pegasus Pick 24 will provide fans with the chance to bet on the exact finish order for both the Pegasus World Cup Invitational and the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational. A $5 million bonus awaits the lucky fan that hits on the Pegasus Pick 24.

Follow all of the excitement of the 2019 Pegasus World Cup on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @PegasusWorldCup #PegasusWorldCup #RunWithUs.

NBC SPORTS GROUP AND HORSE RACING: In addition to the Pegasus World Cup Invitational, NBC Sports Group is the exclusive home to the most important and prestigious events in horse racing, including the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup. Also in 2018, NBC Sports Group televised the Royal Ascot and the Epsom Derby. NBC has been the exclusive home of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes since 2001, and the Belmont Stakes since 2011, when NBC Sports Group reassembled the Triple Crown.

 

THE STRONACH GROUP: The Stronach Group (TSG) is a world-class technology, entertainment and real estate development company with Thoroughbred racing and pari-mutuel wagering at the core. TSG encompasses five distinct business areas that are inter-related and supportive of each other, enabling TSG to be the most dominant player in the Thoroughbred horse racing industry in the United States, with business relations around the globe. TSG business areas include Technology, Entertainment, Racing, Real Estate Development and Agriculture. TSG is dedicated to delivering the best in class Thoroughbred racing content and operations. The company holds some of the greatest brands in the industry, including Southern California’s Santa Anita Park, “The Great Race Place”; South Florida’s Gulfstream Park, home to the US $16 million Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series and retail destination, The Village at Gulfstream Park; Pimlico Race Course, home of the legendary Preakness Stakes, Laurel Park and Rosecroft Raceway in Maryland; Oregon’s Portland Meadows; and the San Francisco Bay Area’s, Golden Gate Fields. TSG is a leader in digital and mobile wagering technology through its subsidiaries AmTote and Xpressbet and is a major distributor of horse racing content to a global audience through Monarch Content Management. Please visit www.stronachgroup.com for more information

–NBC SPORTS GROUP–

 

For more on NBC Sports Group please contact:

Dan Masonson

Dan.Masonson@NBCUni.com

 

For more information on The Pegasus World Cup Invitational or The Stronach Group please contact:

Tiffani Steer, Vice President, Communications and Events, The Stronach Group

tiffani.steer@stronachgroup.com

NBC Sports & Churchill Downs to debut Road to the Kentucky Derby magazine series in Spring 2019

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NBC Sports, The Home of Horse Racing in U.S., Adds Two 2019 Triple Crown Prep Races with Live Coverage of Louisiana Derby & Arkansas Derby on NBCSN

 

STAMFORD, Conn. and LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – November 8, 2018 – As the home of horse racing in the United States, NBC Sports will expand its programming in 2019, collaborating with Churchill Downs on a new magazine-style series, and adding a pair of crucial prep races.

In partnership with Churchill Downs, NBC Sports will debut a new Road to the Kentucky Derby series this spring, leading up to NBC’s coverage of the 145th Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve on Saturday, May 4. In March, NBCSN will debut the first of the four 30-minute Road to the Kentucky Derby episodes, which will showcase the stars of the sport, telling the stories behind the horses and the legendary race. Produced by Churchill Downs, the episodes will provide viewers with an inside look of the extensive preparations for the first leg of the Triple Crown. Keith Wetzler, Executive Producer of Broadcast at Churchill Downs, will produce the series.

In addition, NBC Sports will add the $1 million Louisiana Derby and the $1 million Arkansas Derby to its lineup of 2019 Triple Crown prep races on NBCSN next spring. The first episode of the new Road to the Kentucky Derby series will debut following the Louisiana Derby on March 23.

NBCSN is now home to the six biggest prep races in 2019, leading up to NBC Sports’ coverage of the “Run for the Roses” at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. A month of key prep race coverage on NBCSN begins with the Louisiana Derby on Saturday, March 23, followed one week later by the Florida Derby on Saturday, March 30. Coverage continues on NBCSN with “triplecast” coverage of the Wood Memorial, the Bluegrass Stakes, and the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, April 6, before the Arkansas Derby on Saturday, April 13.

On Saturday, March 23 at 5:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN will televise the $1 million Louisiana Derby from Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans. Last year’s victor, Noble Indy, won by a head over Lone Sailor in a wild finish, and went on to run in both the 2018 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.

Coverage of the $1 million Arkansas Derby, the final prep race before the Kentucky Derby, will begin on Saturday, April 13 at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN from Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The most celebrated champion of the Arkansas Derby, American Pharaoh in 2015, went on to become the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2019 horse racing season begins with the Pegasus World Cup Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 4:30 pm ET on NBC.

Below is NBC Sports Group’s 2019 prep race schedule leading up to the 2019 Kentucky Derby (All Times ET):

Sat., March 23 5:30 p.m. Louisiana Derby NBCSN
Sat., March 30 6 p.m. Florida Derby NBCSN
Sat., April 6 5:30 p.m. Wood Memorial, Blue Grass Stakes & Santa Anita Derby NBCSN
Sat., April 13 7 p.m. Arkansas Derby NBCSN
Sat., May 4 4 p.m. Kentucky Derby NBC

 

NBC Sports Group and Horse Racing: NBC Sports Group is the exclusive home to the most important and prestigious events in horse racing, including the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup. NBC has been the exclusive home of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes since 2001, and the Belmont Stakes since 2011, when NBC Sports Group reassembled the Triple Crown.

 

About Churchill Downs Racetrack: Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 145th running of the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on May 4, 2019. Information is available at www.ChurchillDowns.com.

 

Contacts:

Dan Masonson, NBC Sports Group

203/356-2790

Dan.Masonson@NBCUni.com

 

Darren Rogers, Churchill Downs

502/636-4461

Darren.Rogers@KyDerby.com