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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

Always Dreaming wins 143rd Kentucky Derby

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Always Dreaming, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by jockey John Velazquez, won the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby in 2:03.59. 

This was Pletcher and Velazquez’s second Kentucky Derby win.
Always Dreaming, facing 9-2 odds to begin the race, got off to a great start in the wide open field of 20, but State of Honor had the edge. Velazquez made his move on the far turn, holding off the field in the final furlong to earn the Garland of Roses.

Lookin at Lee followed in second place with Battle at Midway crossing in third.

An emotional Pletcher said post race that his second win is “even more special” than his first, especially given his past struggles in running the Kentucky Derby. Pletcher won his first in 2010 with Super Saver and in his 17 years now has two wins, two second place finishes and three thirds.

However, after being presented with the trophy, Pletcher said he’s “a lot less tired” of the narrative that’s haunted him in the past.

Velazquez’s first Kentucky Derby win came one year after Pletcher’s, leading Animal Kingdom in 2011. Though Pletcher is Velazquez’s longtime trainer, this is the first Derby win for the two together.

“On to the Preakness” was the mantra for Always Dreaming’s owner Vincent Viola during the trophy presentation, but can Always Dreaming be the next Triple Crown winner?

American Pharoah became the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed’s win in 1978 and was just the 12th Triple Crown winner in the sport’s history. Can Always Dreaming be the next? Find out May 20, 2017 when the next leg in the quest for the Triple Crown takes us to Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, MD for the 2017 Preakness Stakes.

Looking back at Pat Day’s unlikely Kentucky Derby win 25 years ago

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) This was no time for Pat Day to be patient.

It paid off for a lifetime.

Known for being a strategic jockey, Day was aboard 16-to-1 longshot Lil E. Tee when the horse broke well from the gate and held his ground in the pack until he found a hole.

The horse rallied from 10th to stalk overwhelming favorite Arazi late and then pass Casual Lies to win the 1992 Kentucky Derby in 2:03.04. Day jumped off and gave praise, throwing his hands to the sky in triumph.

That pose would eventually be immortalized in bronze in the paddock at Churchill Downs. Day, a Hall of Famer, relives how it felt to get his signature victory every time he visits.

Tuesday marks 25 years since Day rode from the No. 10 post position to an upset victory at Churchill Downs. That 1992 win in his 10th attempt turned out to be Day’s only triumph in the Run for the Roses.

“With Arazi, I thought the race was for second place,” Day, 63, said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “Arazi opened up a four, five-length lead, but I started to think maybe I could run for second place.

“That’s when I put Lil E. Tee to the test and he responded and blew past Arazi and Casual Lies. To say the least, it was satisfying.”

His presence looms large at the track where he earned a record 2,481 of his 8,803 career victories, a total that includes five Preakness and three Belmont wins. The third annual Grade 3 Pat Day Mile will be run on Saturday in the run-up to the 143rd Derby.

The silver anniversary of what Day calls his most significant achievement holds extra meaning because the colt’s trainer, Lynn S. Whiting, died at 77 on April 19 following a struggle with cancer and a stroke.

Day and Whiting celebrated the 20th anniversary of Lil E. Tee’s victory and the jockey said they had looked forward to another joyous observation this week. The jockey paused while sorting through mixed emotions of recognizing the milestone without Whiting. He then recalled the glee he felt when he and his friend got to smell the roses together.

“He was just an astute horseman,” Day said of Whiting, whom he began working with on Lil E. Tee as a 2-year-old.

“And all things being equal, you knew he’d get the best out of a horse. I had confidence in him and he had it in me.”

Then, as now, the four-time Eclipse Award winner credited his faith in God for overcoming drug and alcohol abuse and enduring setbacks such as several competitive Derby finishes before and after his lone breakthrough.

“I was where God had me to be and doing what he had me to do,” Day said. “Whether I won or didn’t win, Hallelujah! But I sure went to the wire with that feeling that I wanted to win.”

Day had four seconds and two thirds in the Derby, begging the question of how many more times he could have won. Rather than wonder what if those other times, the jockey sometimes referred to as “Patient Pat” is thankful for having multiple opportunities to win the sport’s marquee race.

And Day’s mastery of Churchill Downs stoked confidence that his spot in the winner’s circle at the Derby was just a matter of time and opportunity. Lil E. Tee delivered with a performance that quickly and perfectly fell into place.

“It just goes to show that even the great jockeys don’t get that many chances to win the Derby,” said fellow Hall of Famer Steve Cauthen, who rode Affirmed to the Triple Crown in 1978. “It was great for him to win the Derby and win it for Lynn Whiting.”

Jubilant as he was, Day stresses that he would’ve been fine without that win. Fortunately for him, he never has to wonder otherwise.