01/20/2014 12:59PM

Fox Sports 1, Jockey Club release list of televised stakes


The Dubai World Cup and five Grade 1 turf races for older horses will be among the 20 live stakes races broadcast on Fox Sports 1 this year as part of a partnership with the Jockey Club, the organizations announced Monday.

The nine-broadcast series will kick off Feb. 9 with a 90-minute program that will include live coverage of the Grade 1 Donn Handicap at Gulfstream Park, the organizations said. Six weeks later, the March 29 Dubai World Cup will be featured during another 90-minute broadcast, with seven other broadcasts sprinkled throughout the spring and late-summer racing calendar, culminating with the Woodbine Mile at Woodbine on Sept. 14.

The schedule is currently heavily tilted to the older turf division, which this year will likely be led once again by two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan. Trainer Charlie LoPresti has not yet announced a schedule for the 7-year-old horse, but in both of his Horse of the Year campaigns, he prepped for the Breeders’ Cup Mile in the Woodbine Mile.

Two races for 3-year-olds also are on the schedule, the April 12 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, one of the most important prep races for the Kentucky Derby, and the July 20 Coaching Club American Oaks, restricted to fillies, at Saratoga Race Course on the track’s opening weekend. A race for 2-year-olds, the Saratoga Special, will be the featured race during the Aug. 10 broadcast.

The Jockey Club announced that it had partnered with Fox Sports 1 on a new racing series for 2014 just prior to the network launching in late summer 2013. Fox Sports 1 is one of a number of new sports channels that have popped up in the past three years as programmers have clamored to position themselves in a niche in which the majority of broadcasts are watched live rather than recorded on DVRs.

During the broadcasts, Fox Sports 1 officials have said that they plan to focus more heavily on handicapping and the intricacies of training and horsemanship than other networks, topics that many major broadcasters generally avoid because of the complexity of both subjects and the often cryptic jargon used by experts to explain them.

The Jockey Club partnered with Fox Sports 1 as part of a recommendation made by a consulting group on how to stem the erosion of the sport’s fan base. Among other recommendations, the consulting group, McKinsey and Co., said that racing should increase its exposure on television.

After the release of the consulting group’s report midway through 2012, the Jockey Club said it would commit $10 million over five years to implement some of the recommendations. The races in the Fox Sports 1 broadcast series are expected to be coupled with the Jockey Club’s efforts to reach out to younger fans through a “brand ambassador” program that uses a branded bus to transport the program’s employees to racetracks, where they mingle with attendees and hand out promotional materials.

Although 10 races were announced Monday as being part of the new series, the Jockey Club said that additional races would be shown live during the nine broadcasts. Those races will be identified “in the near future,” the Jockey Club said in a release.

Three of the last four broadcasts will feature live races from Saratoga. In the past several years, Saratoga’s operator, the New York Racing Association, has partnered with NBC Sports to broadcast weekend stakes races from the track.

NYRA spokesman Eric Wing said Monday that NYRA is “still working out details, but we do expect that racing at Saratoga will be televised on the NBC family of network several times during the 2014 meet.”

FOX Sports 1 series
Feb. 9: Donn Handicap, Gulfstream Park, 5-6:30 p.m.
March 29: Dubai World Cup, Meydan, 1-2:30 p.m.
April 12: Blue Grass Stakes, Keeneland, 4:30-6 p.m.
May 11: Man o’ War Stakes, Belmont Park, 4:30-6 p.m.
July 6: United Nations Stakes, Monmouth Park, 5-6:30 p.m.
July 20: Eddie Read Stakes, Del Mar; Coaching Club American Oaks, Saratoga; 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Aug. 10: Saratoga Special, Saratoga, 5-6:30 p.m.
Aug. 17: Sword Dancer, Saratoga, 5-6:30 p.m.
Sept. 14: Woodbine Mile, Woodbine, 5-6:30 p.m.
(all times Eastern)