05/12/2011 2:47PM

Saratoga: NBC, Versus to televise stakes


Racing at Saratoga is back on national television.

After turning to regional telecasts of Saratoga’s premier events the last two summers, the New York Racing Association reached a deal with NBC Sports Group to televise eight one-hour weekend shows highlighting many of the Grade 1 stakes to be run during the 40-day meet. There will be one-hour programs each of the seven Saturdays of the meet as well as a one-hour telecast on Sunday, Aug. 7.

Three of the Saturday telecasts will be on NBC – the Coaching Club American Oaks on July 23, the Alabama on Aug. 20 and the Travers on Aug. 27 – with the other four Saturday telecasts being broadcast on the cable network Versus. Those one-hour shows will telecast the Diana (July 30) the Whitney (Aug. 6), the Sword Dancer (Aug. 13), and the Woodward (Sept. 3). Versus will also show the Grade 1 Vanderbilt on Sunday Aug. 7. All shows will be broadcast from 5-6 p.m. Eastern.

“We are elated to partner with NBC Sports Group from this landmark agreement,” said NYRA’s chairman, C. Steven Duncker. “Year after year, Saratoga Race Course is synonymous with the best Thoroughbred racing in the country, and the NBC Sports Group is the perfect family of networks to bring this experience to a national audience. By first uniting the Triple Crown races, and now covering the Saratoga meet in a manner never done before, NBC has demonstrated an incredible commitment to Thoroughbred racing, and we are proud to be part of their team.:”

The last time a Saratoga race was on national television was the 2009 Travers, which was televised by ESPN. The last two years, NYRA produced their own shows on MSG-Plus, a regionalized sports network.

NBC and Versus covered the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks as well as the undercard stakes on Derby and Oaks Day. The two networks were scheduled to cover the remaining two legs of the Triple Crown, the Preakness on May 21, and the Belmont on June 11, as well as undercard stakes from Pimlico and Belmont Park those days.

“This is a unique opportunity to expand our coverage of Thoroughbred racing with these great races from Saratoga, a truly iconic venue,” said Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and Versus. “This partnership with NYRA cements the NBC Sports Group’s commitment to the sport, which already includes long-term deals for the Triple Crown with Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, in addition to the Preakness and Belmont.”