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Kentucky hopes to benefit from renewed horse sales to China

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) After a two-year standstill, Kentucky’s renowned horse industry is back in the race to develop a market in China, the world’s most populous country.

State Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles on Monday touted a new trade accord lifting a ban on U.S equine exports to China. The deal was signed by U.S. and Chinese officials last month.

The racing industry remains in its infancy in China, where betting is not allowed on horse races, Quarles said. But with the market now reopened, he predicted buyers will attend equine sales in Kentucky with an eye toward boosting racing and breeding operations in China.

“The Chinese racing industry, like other countries, wants the best, and they know Kentucky as the Lamborghinis of horses,” Quarles said in a phone interview.

Kentucky accounts for nearly two-thirds of overall U.S horse exports, he said. The Bluegrass state exports about $200 million worth of horses each year.

China has the potential to become a lucrative market, Quarles said.

“Imagine one planeload of thoroughbreds leaving central Kentucky after a sale headed toward China,” he said. “That’s going to be a multi-million-dollar economic impact off the bat.”

Quarles joined some of Kentucky’s equine leaders for an event Monday at Keeneland in Lexington to applaud the new trade accord.

Quarles predicted multiple breeds of Kentucky horses will be sold to China. Horses rank as Kentucky’s second-leading ag enterprise, with equine cash receipts projected at about $1 billion in 2017, according to University of Kentucky ag economist Kenny Burdine.

In 2015, the Chinese placed a hold on importing horses from the United States due to concerns about a potentially fatal equine viral disease.

Kentucky played an active role in U.S. efforts to resolve Chinese concerns. A Chinese delegation visited the Bluegrass state to visit horse farms and an equine research center.

The thoroughbred export market to China is estimated at about $30 million, with most racehorses now coming from Australia, New Zealand and Ireland, said Chauncey Morris, executive director of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders.

Keeneland, which hosts lucrative thoroughbred auctions in Lexington, also hailed the resumption of horse sales with China.

“As the world’s largest thoroughbred auction house, we at Keeneland are excited by the significant expansion opportunities it offers Kentucky’s entire horse industry, especially breeders and sellers,” said Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason.

Morris predicted Kentucky will reap the lion’s share of U.S. horse exports to China. China’s potential as a horse market would skyrocket if its ban on betting horse races ends, he said.

“Should wagering on horse racing ever become legal in China, it would become, overnight, probably the most important export market in the world,” he said.

China has already become an important export market for Kentucky soybeans, pork and poultry, UK ag economist Will Snell said. The next goal is to develop a Chinese market for Kentucky beef, Quarles said.

“Opening new export markets are critical to the future growth in the Kentucky ag economy,” Snell said.

Triple Crown winner Justify to resume training in California

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ARCADIA, Calif. — Triple Crown champion Justify has returned to his base at Santa Anita accompanied by a police escort and was greeted by trainer Bob Baffert and jockey Mike Smith.

The winner of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont flew from Louisville, Kentucky, to Ontario, California, on Sunday. After landing, four Arcadia Police Department units traveled with the 13th Triple Crown winner to the racetrack.

After winning the Belmont in New York on June 9, Justify returned to Churchill Downs, where he and his human connections were honored on Saturday night.

Justify will resume training this week and be paraded between races this weekend.

NBC presents 22 hours of daily live coverage of Royal Ascot

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STAMFORD, Conn. – June 14, 2018 – NBC Sports presents daily live coverage of the Royal Meeting in Ascot, Berkshire, England  – one of the most prestigious horse racing meets in the world – including the first-ever NBC broadcast of the race on Saturday, June 23, at 9 a.m. ET. Live coverage of the event begins Tuesday, June 19, at 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN, with daily telecasts of the full five-day Royal meeting on NBCSN through Friday, June 22. In total, NBC Sports Group will present 22 hours of coverage over the five days.

Royal Ascot is one of the world’s most valuable horse racing events, attracting many of the world’s finest racehorses.  The event features 30 races, including eight at the world championship “Group One” level. Highlighting the American contingent is trainer Wesley Ward, who has won nine races at Royal Ascot over the years. He is scheduled to bring 10 horses to Ascot this year, highlighted by Lady Aurelia, who is looking to win her third straight race at The Royal Meeting. She races in the King’s Stand on Tuesday during NBCSN’s first day of coverage.

The Royal Meeting is the center of the British social season and a pivotal week in the calendar of the Royal Family, who arrive every day by the world famous “Royal Procession” – with the first carriage carrying The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

NBC News’ Dylan Dreyer makes her Royal Ascot debut on Friday and Saturday, alongside Nick Luck, who will host coverage for all five days. On Friday morning, June 22, Dreyer will report live from Berkshire on TODAY.

Following is NBC Sports’ schedule for the Royal Ascot next week:

Date Time (ET) Show Network
Tues., June 19 8:30 a.m. Royal Ascot NBCSN
Wed., June 20 8:30 a.m. Royal Ascot NBCSN
Thurs., June 21 8:30 a.m. Royal Ascot NBCSN
Fri., June 22 8:30 a.m. Royal Ascot NBCSN
Sat., June 23 9 a.m. Royal Ascot NBC

NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs – will stream coverage of the Royal Meeting. The NBC Sports app will stream coverage via “TV Everywhere,” giving consumers additional value to their subscription service, and making high-quality content available to MVPD customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms. Powered by Playmaker Media, the NBC Sports app is available on Apple iOS, Android and select Samsung devices, as well as on Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku, Win10, and Xbox.

NBC SPORTS GROUP AND HORSE RACING: In addition to the Royal Ascot, 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 world’s richest horse race (the $16 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational) and the $10 million Dubai World Cup, and in June presented 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.