10/16/2002 12:00AM

Hammond on mend from bypass


Television broadcaster Tom Hammond is recovering from double-bypass heart surgery and may opt out of the Breeders' Cup telecast on NBC next Saturday to aid his recovery.

"We're going to decide first thing next week," said Hammond, from St. Joseph's Hospital in Lexington, Ky., on Wednesday. "The NBC guys are urging me not to do anything foolish, but I'd hate to miss one."

Hammond has been involved with every Breeders' Cup broadcast since the event's inception in 1984. He also serves as the host of NBC's Triple Crown coverage.

Hammond said he expected to be released from the hospital on Thursday or Friday at the latest. Surgery was performed on Tuesday, he said.

"The whole thing was unexpected," Hammond said. "There were no symptoms. It just kind of snuck up. But as these types of things go, everything has gone extremely well."

Cameron Blanchard, a spokeswoman for NBC, said the network "has not made a decision" yet on whether Hammond will host the broadcast. She would not comment on any potential replacement.