04/21/2014 11:48AM

Breeders' Cup, NBC reach deal to televise 18 Breeders' Cup prep races

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Eighteen of the major preps giving horses an automatic berth in a Breeders’ Cup race will be televised live on NBC or NBC Sports this summer and fall under a new agreement between Breeders’ Cup Ltd. and the network’s parent company, according to an announcement by both parties Monday.

The first broadcast June 7 will feature live coverage of the Metropolitan Handicap and the Ogden Phipps Stakes from Belmont Park. The series will conclude Oct. 5 with the Spinster and Bourbon stakes at Keeneland. Twenty-one races in all will be broadcast live under the agreement, and 18 of them are part of the Win and You’re In series, which guarantees the winners spots in one of the 14 races in the Breeders’ Cup year-end event, scheduled for Santa Anita Park in Southern California on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.

The agreement also grants NBC Sports the multiplatform rights to the races, meaning NBC Sports can use the Breeders’ Cup brand to run promotions among its parent company’s properties, including its radio and television networks and other media outlets, such as Time Inc. and Sports Illustrated Inc. Breeders’ Cup said the assignment of the rights was part of a larger effort to market the prep races leading up to the year-end event to a wider audience, using the properties of NBC’s parent company, Comcast-NBC Universal.

Taking a page from the marketing of the Kentucky Derby, Breeders’ Cup marketing chief Drew Sheinman said part of the effort will focus on “a premier lifestyle experience full of fashion, food, entertainment, celebrities, and world-class hospitality.” At the tracks holding the prep races, Breeders’ Cup said it would organize a “VIP racing experience” and a “Champions Terrace” where the connections of the winning horses “can revel in the sweet taste of victory.”

NBC also holds the rights to televise the Kentucky Derby and the two other Triple Crown races. In recent years, Churchill Downs Inc. has pressed NBC to include more lifestyle coverage of the Derby, an effort that has resulted in a one-hour show preceding the race that focuses on celebrities, food, and fashion.

NBC’s websites also will host a promotion called the “Breeders’ Cup Million Dollar Finish,” which will allow website visitors to “play along at home for prizes,” the groups said. The two groups will also launch a new website dedicated to the Breeders’ Cup prep races “focusing on racing, lifestyle, and human-interest features from some of the country’s most iconic racetracks.”

In addition to Belmont and Keeneland, the broadcasts will include races from Santa Anita, Monmouth, Saratoga, and Del Mar.