12/14/2015 5:22PM

Breeders' Cup, NBC extend broadcast deal

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NBC and its sister networks will produce nine broadcasts in the summer and fall next year featuring live coverage of 16 prep races for the Breeders’ Cup under a three-year renewal of a broadcasting contract between the two parties, the groups announced on Monday.

The renewal of the contract will mean that prep races in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series will be broadcast on NBC and NBCSN through 2018. This year, NBC and NBCSN broadcast 16 live races in the series, and the presence of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah in two of the broadcast races generated huge increases in the overall ratings for the series.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to a schedule released by NBC and the Breeders’ Cup, the 2016 Challenge Series telecasts will start with undercard coverage of the Belmont Stakes card on June 11 at Belmont Park in New York. That is already one of the highest-rated telecasts of the year, although most of the viewing audience is present only for the final hour of the broadcast, when the Belmont Stakes is run.

Other Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races expected to be included in the broadcast lineup are the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth, the Sword Dancer at Saratoga, the Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont, and the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland. In addition, the broadcasts will feature live coverage of a handful of races that are not in the Challenge Series, including the Travers and Woodward stakes at Saratoga.

Winners of races in the Challenge Series are granted automatic berths in Breeders’ Cup races, including all entry fees.