NBC Sports’ “Road to the Kentucky Derby” continues this Saturday with two graded stakes races featuring Thoroughbred horses vying for a spot in the Kentucky Derby (Saturday, May 1, 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports). Live action from the Santa Anita Derby in Arcadia, Calif., and the Wood Memorial in Jamaica, NY, begins Saturday at 5 p.m. ET on NBC Sports.

The hour-long broadcast will originate from Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., and is hosted by Tom Hammond alongside three-time Derby-winning jockey Gary Stevens, who won the Santa Anita Derby a record nine times. The NBC Sports broadcast team also includes handicapper Mike Battaglia, reporters Kenny Rice and Donna Brothers from Santa Anita. NBC Sports handicapper Bob Neumeier and horse racing analyst Jessica Pacheco provide additional coverage and analysis live from the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct Racetrack in Jamaica, NY.

STEVENS ON SANTA ANITA DERBY:Looking at Lucky is the obvious pick, but it was interesting listening to (trainer) Bob Baffert this week saying that he just wants to get through this race and that the horse (Looking at Lucky) is much better on dirt than synthetic. It almost sounds like if he gets beat that he is not worried about it. He’s looking forward to the Kentucky Derby. Having said that, Sydney’s Candy is a speed horse who can actually take it wire-to-wire. I also like the gelding Caracortado. He’s only lost one race.”

STEVENS ON HIS RECORD NINE WINS AT SANTA ANITA: “It’s huge for me to have won nine times at Santa Anita. I never would have thought that possible. When I was tied with the great Bill Shoemaker with eight wins apiece I was pretty happy with that. But to be able to break his record is something that I am very proud of.” 

STEVENS ON WOOD MEMORIAL: Eskendereya is an absolute standout. If there is going to be an upset Schoolyard Dreams could possibly do it but it’s going to be tough to beat Eskendereya.”

ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: The newly launched “Road to the Kentucky Derby” television series, produced in partnership by NBC Sports and Churchill Downs Incorporated, began last Saturday with the Louisiana Derby and Lane’s End Stakes and continues the next two consecutive Saturdays with live coverage of four more Derby prep races – key competitions to earn a coveted spot in the Kentucky 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. The shared vision of Churchill Downs and NBC Sports’ successful ‘Big Event Strategy’ led to the 2009 Kentucky Derby being the most viewed Derby in two decades with a 26 percent increase in viewers since this strategy was launched in 2007. 

The remaining broadcast schedule for the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” series is as follows:

THIS SATURDAY (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.

  • Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita Park on April 3; and
  • Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Race Course on April 10.

For more information and to review official rules for each “DreamBet,” Sweepstakes visit www.KentuckyDerby.com/dreambet.

Back in Louisville, Churchill Downs has arranged a fun way for fans to watch “Road to the Kentucky Derby” on NBC Sports. Churchill Downs’ “Derby Nation Road to the Kentucky Derby Viewing Parties” at PRIME Lounge, one of Louisville’s newest and upscale nightclubs located at 104 West Main Street in the heart of Louisville’s downtown gallery district, will begin when doors open at 4 p.m. Guests age 21 and older will be admitted free of charge (no cover) and can enjoy $3 personal pizzas, 35-cent wings and a plethora of drink specials while watching the exciting Kentucky Derby prep races in an enjoyable party atmosphere. There also will be prize giveaways, including coveted Kentucky Derby tickets.

An online link to a clip of last week’s viewing party is available at http://www.kentuckyderby.com/nation/kentucky-derby-nation-events.