11/04/2014 3:19PM

Breeders' Cup Saturday viewership up 20 percent

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Average viewership for NBC Sports Network’s broadcast of the Breeders’ Cup on Saturday afternoon and early evening was 376,000, according to the network, which said the figure represented a 20 percent gain over the average viewership for the same broadcast last year.

The NBCSN broadcast, which ran from 3:30 p.m. Eastern to 8 p.m. and featured live coverage of seven Breeders’ Cup races, was immediately followed by a one-hour live broadcast of the Breeders’ Cup Classic on NBC. As earlier reported, that broadcast, which was helped by the presence of Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome, had a 1.8 rating, up 20 percent over last year’s prime-time broadcast.

The Breeders’ Cup ratings pale in comparison to the typical ratings for a Triple Crown race. This year, for example, the Kentucky Derby, also on NBC, had a rating of a 9.4, with viewership of 15.3 million households.

A three-hour broadcast on Friday on NBCSN featuring live coverage of four Breeders’ Cup races had an average viewership of 170,000, the network reported.

◗ In other Breeders’ Cup news on Tuesday, the California Horse Racing Board reported that all prerace and post-race samples collected from horses participating in the Breeders’ Cup had come back negative for any prohibited substances. All horses were tested for total carbon dioxide prerace, and all post-race samples were subjected to so-called “supertests” designed to detect nearly 200 prohibited substances.

One-third of the horses that participated were also targeted for out-of-competition testing in the weeks prior to the event. None of those samples turned up positive, the CHRB said.