07/18/2002 12:00AM

Whitney to air on YES

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The YES network, a new sports cable station owned in part by the New York Yankees and available principally in New York, will broadcast the Whitney Handicap and Amsterdam Stakes from Saratoga on Aug. 3, it was announced Friday.

The two races will be shown live during a one-hour broadcast beginning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern on YES, which debuted this year on cable systems in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. The network's main programming is coverage of New York Yankees games, one of the most valuable local broadcast contracts in sports. YES is also available on national satellite systems.

With the racing broadcast, "we feel we're reaching out to a more diversified audience, which only strengthens our network," said Leo Hindery Jr., the chief executive of YES.

The Whitney Handicap, one of the most important summer stakes races for older horses, was not scheduled to be shown live this year because of a "lack of available broadcast windows on ESPN," said Eric Wing, a spokesman for the National Thoroughbred Racing Associa-tion. The Whitney was shown live last year on CBS.

"That's what makes the YES deal all the more fortuitous, to us, to the network, and to racing fans, especially in New York," Wing said.

Mike Francesca, the co-host of the "Mike and the Mad Dog" radio program on WFAN in New York and a horse owner, will host the racing broadcast, and he will be joined by reporter Jeannine Edwards and analyst John Kimmel, the New York-based trainer.