Like every prolific sporting championship, the Kentucky Derby® is the culmination of months – even years – of preparation, determination and the heart-felt desire to win America’s greatest race for horses. For many, the chance to compete in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and not making the cut means saying goodbye to a dream.
Just like the road to the Super Bowl, World Series and Final Four, teams of Thoroughbred horses, owners, trainers and jockeys must perform well in schedule of preparatory races – a playoff series – in order to earn a start in the “Run for the Roses.”
The newly launched “Road to the Kentucky Derby” television series, produced in partnership by Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CDHN) and NBC Sports, will take viewers into the middle of this gutsy competition and show them the intense commitment made by both human beings and horses chasing the Kentucky Derby dream.
The three-part series, slated to run on consecutive Saturdays from March 27 through April 10, will provide live coverage of six Derby prep races, key competitions that contenders must win to earn a coveted spot in the Derby’s 20-horse starting gate. The series will also give viewers at home a sense of the spectacle surrounding a day at the races, including snapshots of the fashion, food, famous faces and racing’s real “characters” – the fans – to draw viewers into the social scene that makes racetracks the ultimate source for entertainment.
“We are excited to partner with NBC Sports on this new approach to televised horse racing, which has helped us grow viewership for the Kentucky Derby telecast over the last three years,” said Bob Evans, president and chief executive officer of Churchill Downs Incorporated. “Derby prep races are still the focal points of each telecast, and viewers will have the chance to invest themselves in the compelling storylines of Derby hopefuls as they earn a berth in America’s premier horse race. By blending traditional sports coverage with feature and lifestyle stories, we will offer entertainment programming that appeals to a broad audience, including women and younger viewers, while widely distributing live racing coverage for our core fans.”
The broadcast schedule for the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series is as follows:
SATURDAY, MARCH 27 (USA Network, Fair Grounds, 5-6 p.m. ET):
Grade II, $750,000 Louisiana Derby, 1 1/8 miles, Fair Grounds
Grade II, $500,000 Lane’s End, 1 1/8 miles, Turfway Park
SATURDAY, APRIL 3 (NBC Sports, Santa Anita, 5-6 p.m. ET):
Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby, 1 1/8 miles, Santa Anita
Grade I, $750,000 Wood Memorial, 1 1/8 miles, Aqueduct
SATURDAY, APRIL 10 (NBC Sports, Keeneland, 5-6 p.m. ET):
Grade I, $1 million Arkansas Derby, 1 1/8 miles, Oaklawn Park
Grade I, $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass, 1 1/8 miles, Keeneland
While viewers take in the action at home, fans at the track will have the chance to enjoy the “DreamBet” of a lifetime. Churchill Downs Incorporated will sponsor a special promotion at each of the broadcast host tracks for the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series, allowing on-track patrons to enter a drawing for the opportunity for a free $10,000 wager on the broadcast host track’s race. A winning fan will be drawn at random during the course of the racing program at each broadcast host track. Churchill Downs will then place a $10,000 “win” wager on the horse the winning contestant at each host site selects in the following races:
· Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on March 27;
· Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park on April 3; and
· Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Race Course on April 10.
Viewers at home can watch to see if the contestant wins big as the race unfolds. Churchill Downs Incorporated piloted a similar wagering concept during its three “Downs After Dark” night racing events in the summer of 2009 that proved extremely popular with fans of all ages and wagering experience levels. For more information and to review official rules for each “DreamBet,” Sweepstakes visit www.KentuckyDerby.com/dreambet.
Churchill Downs Incorporated, (“CDI”), headquartered in Louisville, Ky., owns and operates four world renowned Thoroughbred racing facilities: Arlington Park in Illinois, Calder Casino and Race Course in Florida, Churchill Downs Race Track in Kentucky and Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots in Louisiana. CDI operates slot and gaming operations in Louisiana and Florida. CDI tracks are host to North America’s most prestigious races, including the Arlington Million, the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks, the Louisiana Derby and the Princess Rooney, along with hosting the Breeders’ Cup World Championships for a record seventh time on Nov. 5-6, 2010. CDI also owns off-track betting facilities, TwinSpires.com and other advance-deposit wagering channels, television production, telecommunications and racing service companies such as BRIS and a 50-percent interest in the national cable and satellite network, HorseRacing TV, which supports CDI’s network of simulcasting and racing operations. CDI’s Entertainment Group produces the HullabaLOU Music Festival at Churchill Downs Racetrack which premieres on July 23-25, 2010. CDI trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol CHDN and can be found at www.churchilldownsincorporated.com.