04/09/2015 1:38PM

NBC to show 18 Breeders' Cup qualifiers


NBC and its sister network NBCSN will televise 18 graded stakes races this summer and fall in 10 telecasts as part of its coverage of prep races guaranteeing spots in the Breeders’ Cup event, the network and the Breeders’ Cup announced on Thursday.

The broadcasts will begin June 6 with live coverage of the Metropolitan Handicap and Ogden Mills Phipps Stakes from Belmont Park in New York, according to the groups. That broadcast will be followed by two prime-time broadcasts in the Eastern time zone, the first from Churchill Downs on June 13 (the Stephen Foster and Fleur de Lis), and the second from Santa Anita on June 27 (the Gold Cup and a yet-to-be-determined supporting stakes).

All of the races shown during the 10 broadcasts will be Win and You’re In races, a designation that provides the winner with a starting berth in one of the 13 Breeders’ Cup races, scheduled this year for Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., on Oct. 30-31. The winners of the Win and You’re In races also have their entry and starting fees waived.

The Breeders’ Cup has yet to announce the entire Win and You’re In lineup, but the organization expects to nail down the list within the next week, according to Jim Gluckson, a Breeders’ Cup spokesman. Last year, there were 45 Win and You’re In races at U.S. and Canadian racetracks and another 26 in foreign racing jurisdictions.

This is the second year in which NBC networks have broadcast races in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series, which is another name for the Win and You’re In program. Last year, NBC reached a deal extending its broadcast rights to the Breeders’ Cup two-day event by 10 years, to 2025. The company also reached the same extension for its rights to the Kentucky Derby, the most expensive rights property in U.S. racing by far.

Many networks are clamoring for the rights to live sporting events due to a sharp recent run-up in the launch of all-sports networks as media companies seek to secure DVR-proof programming. Rights to televised sporting events also are seen as critical to network executives in the race to drive traffic to network-controlled websites and mobile platforms.

This year, the last two broadcasts of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series will feature races from Keeneland on Oct. 3 and Oct 4, giving NBC ample opportunity to tie the broadcasts into promotions for the Breeders’ Cup event at the same track four weeks later.