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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

Baltimore sues to block move of Preakness Stakes

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BALTIMORE — Baltimore has ratcheted up a bitter dispute with the owners of a historic racetrack in an effort to seize a nearly 150-year-old course and block the move of one of America’s premier horse races out of the city where it was first run in 1873.

Under state law, the Preakness Stakes – the middle jewel of the Triple Crown of thoroughbred horse racing – can be moved to another track in Maryland “only as a result of a disaster or emergency.” But the Canada-based development company that owns and operates the rundown Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore has made it abundantly clear that it wants to move the storied race out of the city.

A lawsuit freshly filed by Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh, the City Council and three residents claims that the Canada-based development company that owns the track is “openly planning to violate Maryland law by moving the Preakness to a different racetrack despite the absence of any disaster or emergency, except for the disaster that they are in the process of creating.”

The Stronach Group is looking at a fresher track it owns in Laurel Park – in Anne Arundel County about 30 miles (about 50 kilometers) south of the Baltimore facility – as a better option for the Preakness. It has only pledged to keep the Preakness at the Baltimore track through 2020.

In an email seeking comment about the lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in Baltimore Circuit Court, the Stronach Group said it “believes these actions are premature and unfounded.”

Here’s what it wants to do: Stronach aims to make some $80 million in improvements to build a “super track” at Laurel Park and company officials are lobbying Maryland’s General Assembly to permit funding from gambling proceeds to help realize their vision.

Baltimore’s lawsuit, meanwhile, asks a court to grant ownership of the Pimlico track and the Preakness race to Maryland’s biggest city through condemnation. Baltimore is also trying to prevent the Stronach Group from using state bonds to fund improvements at Laurel Park.

The lawsuit accuses the company of essentially manufacturing a disaster by “systematically” underinvesting in Pimlico, instead spending the majority of the state aid it receives on boosting its Laurel track.

Hard feelings between Baltimore and the owners of Pimlico had been intensifying before this week’s lawsuit. In a February letter to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Maryland lawmakers, Pugh portrayed the Stronach Group as a family business in disarray, noting that the feuding “father, daughter and now granddaughter” were “suing one another in multiple lawsuits.”

The Preakness saga’s latest chapter comes a few months after the Maryland Stadium Authority issued a report saying the Pimlico track should be torn down and rebuilt at a cost of $424 million.

It said the rundown condition of the aging Baltimore track presents challenges threatening the “continued existence and the success of the Preakness Stakes,” but it also stressed there did not appear to be “situational factors” such as the surrounding city neighborhood of Park Heights and accessibility issues that would “negatively affect Pimlico Race Course’s ability to remain the long-term home” of the Preakness.

Pugh strongly endorsed the redevelopment plan recommended by the Maryland Stadium Authority, saying the economic opportunity it would bring could dramatically revitalize an area that’s experienced disinvestment for decades.

Hogan appears less than receptive to Baltimore’s latest tack, telling WBAL’s radio station that “the overwhelming number of people in Maryland don’t really care where it (the Preakness) is.”

“They would just like to keep it in Maryland.”

Yet the Republican governor also reiterated that he would like to see the major horse race remain in Baltimore.

Back in its heyday, Pimlico hosted many of the sport’s most memorable races: Seabiscuit’s match race with War Admiral in 1938; Man o’ War’s debut in 1920 with a stunning win over Upset; and Secretariat’s last-to-first victory during his Triple Crown run in 1973. Though work crews have found a way to make the track presentable for the Preakness every year on the third Saturday in May, many racing fans have said the need for a dramatic makeover has been blatantly obvious for many years.

Sire of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah dies at 13

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VERSAILLES, Ky. (AP) WinStar Farm says that stallion Pioneerof the Nile, sire of 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, has died.

Owner Ahmed Zayat confirmed the death of the 13-year-old to the Associated Press on Monday and said he was “like a family member.” WinStar stated on its web site that Pioneerof the Nile had bred a mare and became uncomfortable after returning to his stall. He died on the way to the clinic. Zayat said he was awaiting results from an autopsy.

The Kentucky-bred son of Empire Maker and Star of Goshen by Lord at War earned more than $1.6 million and five wins, a second in the 2009 Kentucky Derby and a third in 10 career starts. Trained by Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, Pioneerof the Nile sired 2-year-old male Eclipse Award winners Classic Empire and American Pharoah – who became horse racing’s 12th Triple Crown champion winner and first since 1978 when he swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

WinStar’s Elliott Walden said on the web site that the farm is saddened and heartbroken over Pioneerof the Nile’s death and praised his “unique personality.” Zayat said he will cherish the horse’s sweet demeanor and talent that set a standard for his stable. He added, “He was a part of us, a part of me. Just very special.”