05/05/2014 3:43PM

Letter to the editor: Derby coverage should focus on horses

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Dear Editor,

Another disappointing Kentucky Derby for me – not the race or its results but NBC's coverage of it. I was hoping to see Thoroughbred racehorses but barely got a glimpse. Instead, I got women's hats, celebrities, celebrities' picks, a lesson in how to make a mint julep, the inanities of Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, and a man I think is an enemy of horse racing, Bob Costas.

I would like to have seen video coverage of each horse in the walkover, in the paddock and walking ring, and on the track – not only parading before the grandstand but also warming up. In the couple of hours before the walkover, I would like to have seen a profile of each horse, starting from post No. 1 and going on out to No. 20. Each profile would have included video coverage of the horse posing to reveal what it looks like (conformation), video coverage of the horse walking or playing, of the horse working out, and of the horse's stretch run in its Kentucky prep – anything to let me see the horse in the flesh.

Each profile would have included a description of the horse, such as age, sex, weight, height, pedigree, and any other information – maybe its personality and its preferences – that would have helped me get to know the horse. Of course, each profile would have included the stories – many of them extraordinary – about the connections behind the horse. And, finally, each profile might have included a panel of experts discussing the horse's record and evaluating its chances of winning. But instead of this profile, NBC gave me Jimmy Fallon's parody starting from post No. 1 and going on out, which – though humorous – told me nothing about any of the Thoroughbred racehorses.

William B. Johnson
Monrovia, Calif.

Bob More than 1 year ago
Couldn't agree more...NBC is a horrible choice for broadcasting any horse racing event because there isn't anyone in the entire organization that understands the first thing about horse racing other than the talking heads and they don't have any control over programming content. As a result the broadcast ends being no different than any other corporate television drivel....Hats and mint julep recipes and heart-rending human interest stories about some forlorn soul whose fortunes have been turned around after a chance encounter with the world of racing aside, the racing industry needs to get serious about using television to market its product and quit being a lapdog to the media outlets, the Breeders Cup overlords and the handful of racetrack owners who seem to be able to keep from going broke! If the goons who run the NFL can turn football into a mult-BILLION dollar industry, there is no reason the same thing can't be done with thoroughbred racing!
jttf More than 1 year ago
why does it take over two hours to show two races ? boring. from now on i will watch up to the ninth race and then go play some golf.
Cover2 More than 1 year ago
Also, just heard that NBC is covering Olympics to 2032. Like Lenny Shulman said recently on Bloodhorse " Bob Costas went out of Olympic reporting with eye problem, Horse Racing just can't catch a break "
Cover2 More than 1 year ago
Why not Al Michaels he's NBC, used to own a few with Gary Jones as trainer. at least knows something about it ? Tom Hammond about the best, but look at his lack of communication . Ex- Jocks are the best, but don't have 'em on too much because of it. Horse racing has always been a terrible cover for TV, Radio before.
John Weber More than 1 year ago
If NBC isn't trying to appeal to hard core racing fans, then they shouldn't have interviewed the guy from "Horseplayers". This guy gives the viewers some great advice as in there is no value in the Derby betting to win, and that he is going to bet the favorite with 4 or 5 horses underneath in exactas and maybe with those 4 or 5 with all in a triple. He adds that bettors should treat all races like math problems and nobody should have an ego and that money management is the most important quality at the track. The girl interviewer responds with.."you really look nice today." I just laughed.
DAVID More than 1 year ago
Mr Johnson I commend You & other whom Posted below! I have been a Fan,Past Employee of a large successful Racing Stable. Started a Sportsman Park Chicago is the Mid 60's I actually thought i was going to have a heart attack had to get up & turn the TV Off I was so irate & nauseous.How NBC could take a grand sport and destroy it's TV coverage is unreal. Like others have posted its about the Horses!! not these One Day wonders at the track. I do take solace that it was not just me becoming a miserable old man.I won't even bother to watch the Preakness or Belmont.Maybe we should stop buying from the sponsors of the NBC Telecast to they get back to covering Racing. I find no fault with Donna Brothers,and did miss here commentary from Horseback in the Post Parade. Only hope that NBC received enough negatives to look at how they move forward with there coverage in the future.
walesfoodmusic More than 1 year ago
you won't be alone ignoring the Preakness and Belmont
Jimmy Metzger More than 1 year ago
I don't understand why the DRF is printing this letter. Obviously, everyone here would love more pure racing analysis and angles, which is why we're on the DRF website. But hardcore racing fans are not what NBC is trying to, or should be trying to, appeal to.
Robin Dawson More than 1 year ago
Jimmy...by now the half-witts who are in charge of promoting horse racing (it is horse racing, not some silly reality TV show) should have realized that their approach is wrong. And in fact, properly presented, the so-called Sport of Kings is exciting because it is live dramatic action, featuring horses...not gold bars, cards or some mindless computer-generated lottery or game.
Chantal Smithless More than 1 year ago
I would love to comment only everything I think has already been said...............
scott More than 1 year ago
I hate these worthless telecasts. My question is what audience are u trying to target with this crap? I watch and bet 5 days a week and have watched the derby with friends who are casual fans, ones who join me at Saratoga a couple weekends a year. I always ask them what they think. As casual fans they find it comical and only complain about the complete lack of horse coverage. My sister asked me if we were watching the derby on the E network? She's a blonde, but a valid question none the less. It is such a disgrace, all of the focus should be on the horses. Human connections stories are neat but no one cares. The younger people u want to be fans dont care about any of it. That info is online and available 24 hours a day. If they become a fan of a horse they will learn the rest. You have this short window of a telecast and its in 15-20 million homes/bars.... its got to be all about the horses. Thats who were are tuning in to see. -Toga
Ron Solberg More than 1 year ago
just gets worse and worse.