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NTRA NOTES

Contact: Jim Gluckson (NTRA) 212-230-9512
Dave Nagle (ESPN) 860-766-2241

ESPN TO TELEVISE BREEDERS’ CUP WORLD THOROUGHBRED CHAMPIONSHIPS BEGINNING IN 2006

Officials of Breeders’ Cup Limited, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and ESPN announced today an eight-year agreement for ESPN to televise the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships beginning in 2006. (Media Teleconference will be held at 1:00 p.m. ET; Dial in 913-981-4900; conf. code# 4694699).

The Breeders’ Cup, which consists of eight races with purses and awards totaling $14 million, is the most important global horse racing event and the richest day of racing in North America. The Breeders’ Cup, inaugurated in 1984, annually draws top Thoroughbreds from overseas to a different location each year.

The key points of the ESPN/Breeders’ Cup agreement are as follows:

  • Beginning in 2006, the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships telecast will be a live seven-hour program airing from 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. ET, two hours longer than its current length.
  • ESPN and ABC Sports will air five two-hour telecasts from June through October, featuring major stakes races leading to the Breeders’ Cup.
  • Extension from 2008 through 2013 of the “Racing to the Kentucky Derby” and “Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships” series currently featuring 30 telecasts and more than 40 hours annually of racing programming on ESPN and ESPN2. The agreement also includes the extension through 2013 of the weekly “Wire2Wire” racing magazine and highlights show on ESPN2.
  • The deal includes rights for high-definition coverage via ESPN HD, Spanish language on ESPN Deportes, ESPN Classic, ESPN International, the recently launched broadband service ESPN360 and the ESPN Mobile cell phone service to be launched in the next year.
  • Unprecedented promotion of the Breeders’ Cup and Thoroughbred racing through the wide variety of ESPN and ABC Sports platforms.

“This is an extraordinary multi-media agreement highlighted by unprecedented television coverage for the Breeders’ Cup and Thoroughbred racing. It solidifies our sport’s presence on television and a broad spectrum of media platforms for the next eight years,” said D.G. Van Clief, Jr. President of Breeders’ Cup Limited and NTRA Commissioner. “We are very impressed with ESPN’s capability of delivering a seven-hour window for the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, and its ability to present and promote our event through a variety of ESPN assets. We are also looking forward to working with ESPN in reaching a younger demographic of fans who will enjoy the excitement of Thoroughbred racing.”

Van Clief also added, “We would like to recognize the initial commitment to televise the Breeders’ Cup made by the late Arthur Watson and thank our many friends, in particular Dick Ebersol and Ken Schanzer, on the NBC team who have been such good partners over the past 22 years.”

The Breeders’ Cup contract with NBC Sports will conclude following the airing of the 22nd Breeders’ Cup on Saturday, October 29, at Belmont Park.

“The Breeders’ Cup agreement ushers in a new era for Thoroughbred horse racing on ESPN, reflecting our increased commitment to the sport,” said Mark Shapiro, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming and Production. “We intend to bring our full arsenal of resources to present, promote and distribute the storied property as no one else can. The Breeders’ Cup is a global celebration of horse racing and we welcome it to the ESPN family of networks.”

The Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships consist of eight races: $2 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Distaff; $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies; $1.5 million NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile; $1 million TVG Breeders’ Cup Sprint; $1 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf; $1.5 million Bessemer Trust Breeders’ Cup Juvenile; $2 million John Deere Breeders’ Cup Turf and the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Classic - Powered by Dodge. Other NTRA/Breeders’ Cup sponsors include Guinness, Fed Ex, Alberto-Culver, Lexmark, Cendant, Grey Goose and Citgo.

Over the years, some of Thoroughbred racing’s greatest champions have competed in the Breeders’ Cup, including Breeders’ Cup Classic – Powered by Dodge – winners Ferdinand Alysheba, Sunday Silence and Cigar, and great fillies such as Lady’s Secret, Personal Ensign, and Azeri.

ESPN, Inc. is the world’s leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of over 50 multimedia sports assets. The company is comprised of seven domestic television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU, ESPN Today), ESPN and ESPN2 HD, simulcast services, ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International (networks, syndication, radio, web sites), ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, SportsTicker, ESPN Enterprises, ESPN Zones (sports-themed restaurants), and other growing new businesses including ESPN360 (Broadband), ESPN Mobile, ESPN on Demand, ESPN Interactive and ESPN PPV. Based in Bristol, Ct., ESPN is 80 percent owned by ABC, Inc., which is an indirect subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company. The Hearst Corporation holds a 20 percent interest in ESPN.

The NTRA is a broad-based coalition of horseracing interests, including the American Quarter Horse Association, charged with increasing popularity of horseracing and improving economic conditions for industry participants. The NTRA and Breeders’ Cup Limited administer the Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships consisting of eight races and $14 million in purses and awards and the Breeders’ Cup Stakes Program. The NTRA has offices in Lexington, Ky., and New York City. NTRA press releases appear on the NTRA Web site, ntra.com

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