“One of the great sporting events in America…a slice of Americana” – NBC’s Hammond
“It’s a great Kentucky Derby this year, one of the best I’ve seen in 20 years.” – NBC’s Stevens
NEW YORK – April 30, 2009 – NBC Sports broadcasts exclusive coverage of the 135th Kentucky Derby this Saturday starting at 4 p.m. ET. NBC Sports’ broadcast will bring the spectacle of the Kentucky Derby, which has been contested annually since 1875, home to viewers with behind-the-scenes access, celebrities and fashion surrounding the legendary Run for the Roses. The Red Carpet will feature celebrity interviews as the stars arrive to Churchill Downs to enjoy the greatest day in horse racing.
Bob Costas and Tom Hammond co-host the Derby alongside three-time Derby winner Gary Stevens. NBC Sports’ broadcast team also includes race-caller Tom Durkin; contributing analysts/handicappers Mike Battaglia and Bob Neumeier; reporter Kenny Rice and on-track reporter Donna Brothers, who retired in 1998 after an impressive 11-year career as a jockey. The Kentucky Derby on NBC is produced by Sam Flood and directed by David Michaels. Additionally, the TODAY Show’s Al Roker will contribute reports, and Nancy O’Dell, co-host of “Access Hollywood” and author of “Full of Life: Mom-To-Mom Tips I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Pregnant,” and Tiki Barber of “Football Night in America” will handle Red Carpet arrivals.
Due to technical difficulties with our conferencing center we apologize that the conference call had to be cancelled. Below are quotes from NBC’s talent and production staff about the Kentucky Derby and NBC’s coverage:
HAMMOND ON WHAT MAKES THE DERBY SPECIAL: “I always look forward to the first Saturday of May because the Kentucky Derby is one of the great sporting events in America. It’s really a slice of Americana where you have the raucous infield, millionaires’ row and more than 150,000 people on hand, and that makes it one of the highlights of our broadcasting year.
“The thing that makes the Derby special to me too is that, aside from the Olympics, there are more stories involved in horse racing and specifically the Derby than any other sport of all the sports I cover. Not only stories about horses, but also stories about the people involved with them – the owners, the trainers, the jockeys. It’s just a wealth of stories, and storytelling is part of our duties as sportscasters.”
HAMMOND ON ONE OF HIS FAVORITE STORIES THIS YEAR: “There’s a story in the Derby this year that typifies what I think the Derby is all about. On one hand, you have Sheikh Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, coming over with two horses. He’s spent billions worldwide, and the one thing he has not been able to accomplish in horse racing is to win the Kentucky Derby. There’s also a horse in here named General Quarters that is owned by Tom McCarthy, who is a 75-year old retired school principal from Louisville who has been chasing his dream of having a Derby horse for 50 years. He’s the owner, the trainer and the groom for a horse he claimed he bought for $20,000. So you have the man who is a one-horse stable who does all the work himself, running against one of the richest men in the world. It’s what the Derby’s all about. It doesn’t matter how much money you have. The horses don’t know who owns them, and you can’t buy the Derby. The best horse on that day is going to win it, regardless of the wealth of its owners. And that’s what the Kentucky Derby is all about. It’s a great equalizer and the story of Tom McCarthy is one we’ll tell on Saturday, and hopefully that will make the Derby special.”
STEVENS ON A WIDE OPEN DERBY: “It’s a great Kentucky Derby this year, one of the best I’ve seen in 20 years as far as prospects who could win it. I’ve got about eight horses who, if I was still riding, I wouldn’t mind sitting on their back. It’s a very contentious race this year.”
EIGHT HORSES STEVENS LIKES:
- I Want Revenge
- Pioneerof the Nile
- Desert Party
- General Quarters
- Regal Ransom
- Papa Clem
- Mr. Hot Stuf
NEUMEIER’S TOP THREE: “I only see three possible horses that can win the race. In order of preference: Dunkirk, Pioneerof the Nile and I Want Revenge. I’ll be very surprised if someone else wins the race, because I think those three are head and shoulders above the rest of the field.”
NEUMEIER’S PICK TO WIN THE KENTUCKY DERBY: “I like Dunkirk because he ran an incredible second in the Florida Derby to the horse that I thought was the best horse in the country, and that is Quality Road, who has been scratched for the Derby. For that reason and the fact that Pioneerof the Nile has never run on conventional dirt, makes me give the nod to Dunkirk. I don’t care about historical precedents about him not running as a two-year old. I think he’s the best horse in the race.”
NEUMEIER ON I WANT REVENGE: “Tactically, I think the race will advantage I Want Revenge, because he is kind of a frontrunner pace presser in a race that’s dominated by late running horses, or closing horses. So I think he will take advantage of that. But I don’t think he’s any better than Dunkirk or Pioneerof the Nile, and as a favorite I’ll put him third on my hit parade. So Dunkirk –1, Pioneerof the Nile- 2, I Want Revenge- 3.”
BATTAGLIA ON THE DERBY FIELD: “It’s a strong field of three-year-olds, much stronger top-to-bottom than the field we had last year. Big Brown was a standout last year, but I don’t think the field as a whole was nearly as good as the one we have this year.
BATTAGLIA’S PICK TO WIN THE KENTUCKY DERBY: “I personally like Pioneerof the Nile’s chances. I think he will handle the dirt. This is a horse that has only raced on turf and synthetics, but he’s really trained well since he got here and trainer Bob Baffert knows how to win this race. Baffert has already won the Kentucky Derby three times and I think the fact that jockey Garrett Gomez chose this horse over Dunkirk speaks volumes for Pioneerof the Nile also, so I think he’s going to be very dangerous. Wide open race, excellent race. Best trip wins. My pick- Pioneerof the Nile.”
OTHER HORSES BATTAGLIA LIKES: “You can’t knock I Want Revenge, the favorite and you can’t knock Dunkirk. Either one of those can win and Friesan Fire could be dangerous.”
BATTAGLIA’S LONG SHOT: “For a long shot I kind of think Hold Me Back will run big. He makes his third start for Bill Mott, who is very good with horses.”
FLOOD ON DERBY STORYLINES: “It’s a wonderful Derby because there are more stories than we’ve ever had before. There’s a great trainer in Bob Baffert coming back to the track to Tom McCarthy, the school principal who’s getting his first chance at age 75 on a $20,000 horse. Then you’ve got Larry Jones coming off the tragedy last year with Eight Belles, coming to his last Derby. There are human stories throughout the Derby that make it a compelling day of racing. We have all the people in place and all the equipment in place to really make this one of the great Kentucky Derby scenes of all-time.”
FLOOD ON BRAVO’S FRIDAY SHOW: “Doing the Oaks for the first time is very exciting for our group. In the past we have not covered that race, and now we have an hour-long special on Bravo that will include the Ladies’ Day at the Derby. This will create a whole new feel and a whole new tone to Friday’s telecast, so we’re very excited about that and the folks at Churchill are really excited about moving the Oaks onto Bravo and showcasing the ladies.”
NBCSPORTS.COM AT THE DERBY: NBCSports.com will live stream the tote board during the pre-race broadcast Saturday so fans can get up-to-the-minute information on the latest odds directly from Churchill Downs.
Additionally, NBCSports.com, in conjunction with Icue, will present a video-quiz application that tests knowledge of past Kentucky Derby winners and events, and is available on NBCSports.com and Facebook.
KENTUCKY DERBY ON ITUNES: This year, for the first time, race fans can also purchase a Kentucky Derby race replay on the iTunes Store (www.iTunes.com). Fans can buy a highlight package of the NBC Sports broadcast and “Run for the Roses: The Kentucky Derby and the Business of Horse Racing”, a CNBC Original primetime program, for $1.99 each or a bundle of the two for $2.99.
SEE THE DERBY ON YOUR MOBILE PHONE: Users on the go can watch the Kentucky Derby live on their mobile phones exclusively through NBC 2Go and NBC Sports Mobile. Plus, fans can watch exclusive video and race replays on-demand on NBC Sports Mobile Video (check your carrier for availability).
LUCKY U GAME: NBC Sports and Churchill Downs are joining together to present The Kentucky Derby Lucky U Game for the third consecutive year. Last year, the Lucky U Game generated more than 500,000 entries. Lucky U is a contest where a lucky fan can win a cash prize and a trip to the 2010 Kentucky Derby. Once the field for the Derby is set on Wednesday, horse racing fans will be able to vote for the horse that they think will win. The winner will receive $10,000 in cash and a 2010 Kentucky Derby VIP Experience provided by Churchill Downs, including tickets to the Derby, round-trip transportation, and accommodations. Viewers of NBC’s Kentucky Derby broadcast and other horse racing fans will be invited to enter by sending a text message for their choice from their cell phone. Standard text messaging charges apply. Fans can also enter by going online to NBCSports.com/luckyu.
LADIES FIRST: BRAVO AT THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Bravo will feature the very best in food, fashion and the celebrity experience associated with the great spectacle of Kentucky Derby weekend including Kentucky Oaks 135 on “Ladies First: Bravo at the Kentucky Derby,” a one-hour special produced by NBC Sports, LIVE this Friday at 5 p.m. ET/PT. The special, hosted by NBC’s Costas, “Access Hollywood’s” O’Dell, and “The Real Housewives of New York City’s” Bethenny Frankel, daughter of horse trainer Bobby Frankel, celebrates a day for women and gives viewers a history on the fashion and festivities before and after the Oaks race. NBC’s Barber will check-in live from the Infield Club with “Top Chef” series five finalist Stefan Richter, and season four and five “Top Chef” winners Stephanie Izard and Hosea Rosenberg. “Top Chef: The Tour,” a state-of-the-art customized traveling kitchen with expansive space to accommodate cooks and fans alike, will make a special stop at the Kentucky Oaks – in the Infield Club.
Frankel, a racing aficionado and best-selling author, will provide a female perspective to handicapping and betting at the Kentucky Oaks, and along with O’Dell will take viewers through the spectacular fashion and hats on display over the weekend.
KENTUCKY DERBY A RATINGS SUCCESS: NBC’s coverage of the 2008 Kentucky Derby grabbed 11.5 million viewers, equaling its best delivery in six years. Since 2001 when the Kentucky Derby moved from ABC to NBC, average viewership has increased more than two million viewers (24 percent) over the previous eight years on ABC.
KENTUCKY DERBY ON NBC: NBC Sports began its exclusive coverage of the Kentucky Derby, the longest continuously held sporting event in North America, in 2001. In May 2005, NBC Sports and Churchill Downs Incorporated reached an agreement giving the network the exclusive broadcast rights to the Kentucky Derby beginning in 2006 and continuing through 2010.