With the change in Kentucky Derby qualification format the prep races have taken on more importance and now they’ve got the television coverage to reflect that enhanced stature. The NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will provide live broadcast of the top four Derby prep races over the next couple of weekends.
On March 29 NBCSN will televise the Florida Derby from Gulfstream Park and the Louisiana Derby from Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots. The Florida Derby will be of particular interest to horse racing enthusiasts–in 2013 Florida Derby winner Orb was the posttime favorite for the Kentucky Derby and emerged victorious. The Belmont Stakes also produced a notable champion–2013 Belmont Stakes winner Palance Malace.
The following week will feature two more Derby Prep races. On April 5 NBCSN will televise the Wood Memorial from Aqueduct Racetrack and the Santa Anita Derby from Santa Anita Park. The Wood Memorial is arguably the highest profile of all Derby prep races, at least historically. Eleven Wood Memorial winners have gone on to claim the Kentucky Derby with five of those advancing to win the Triple Crown. The Santa Anita Derby is also a very important Derby prep race with the winner going on to claim the ‘Run for the Roses’ seven times including in 2012 with I’ll Have Another.
NBC Sports has quickly become the dominant network for coverage of the Triple Crown horse races. Their 2014 coverage will begin on Friday, May 2 with coverage of the Kentucky Oaks. On Saturday May 3, NBC will broadcast the 140th Kentucky Derby from the world famous Churchill Downs race track. NBC and their family of networks will also cover the remaining Triple Crown races–the Belmont and the Preakness–later in the summer.
In addition to NBC’s coverage of the big events themselves there will be plenty of coverage on the all horse racing networks TVG and HRTV. There is also a radio network dedicated to horse racing that provides ample coverage as well as countless internet websites. And, of course, the Daily Racing Form is considered the definitive media resources on horse racing news, handicapping, and statistical information. So get ready for a big Kentucky Derby racing–and betting–season.