|Contact: Michael Humes, ESPN, (860) 766-2233
Eric Wing, NTRA, (917) 930-9772
Ed Seigenfeld, Triple Crown Productions, (502) 636-4405
NTRA, TRIPLE CROWN PRODUCTIONS RENEW WITH ESPN; HORSERACING PROGRAMMING EXTENDED THROUGH 2008
The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), Triple Crown Productions and ESPN reached an agreement to renew multiple horseracing series and special event programming through 2008, the three organizations announced today.
The agreement extends ESPN's two major live racing series on ESPN and ESPN2: "CITGO Racing to the Kentucky Derby," a nine-show series featuring the key prep races for the VISA Triple Crown, and the "Road To The World Thoroughbred Championships," a 17-show series of prep races from the United States, Canada and Europe for the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships.
The agreement also renews ESPN's event programming for each of the VISA Triple Crown races, 40-plus hours that includes live telecasts of the top stakes races on the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont undercards; live telecasts of the Kentucky Derby post position draw and Preakness post position draw; live telecasts of the Kentucky Oaks, Black-Eyed Susan and Acorn Stakes on the Friday preceding each Triple Crown event; and other live programming, including pre- and post-race coverage.
The extension also covers the recently revamped weekly magazine show, "Long John Silver's Wire to Wire," formerly known as "RaceHorse Digest," and event programming such as the annual Eclipse Awards show.
"At a time when a sustained, cohesive television presence is a competitive must for all major league sports, we are excited to continue our long-term partnership with ESPN and the ESPN family of networks," said NTRA Commissioner Tim Smith. "This long-term commitment from ESPN gives us the ability to recruit additional corporate marketing partners for horseracing. Over the next six years, NTRA Productions will continue to improve and shape programming on ESPN to ensure that we present the very best of our game for both our fans and sponsors."
"ESPN is committed to delivering the best in Thoroughbred racing programming, so it is only natural we would enhance relationships with the Triple Crown and the NTRA to televise the biggest and most important events in the sport," said Mark Shapiro, ESPN senior vice president and general manager, programming.
"It's a perfect marriage," said Thomas H. Meeker, president and CEO of Churchill Downs Incorporated and president of Triple Crown Productions. "ESPN has re-defined sports programming and brand management, and the Triple Crown events define horseracing to most sports fans. The activities surrounding the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes consistently produce a quality entertainment experience, and ESPN has delivered that experience to its viewers worldwide."
A schedule of 2002 "Road to the World Thoroughbred Championships" programming will be announced in June. The series began in 1992 as "Racing to the Breeders' Cup."
"Our relationship with ESPN over the years has given the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships and Thoroughbred racing in general an immensely valuable platform for delivering our sport to the public. We are delighted to extend that relationship through 2008," said D.G. Van Clief, Jr., president of Breeders' Cup Limited.
ESPN's horseracing programming is produced by NTRA Productions, a subsidiary of the NTRA, in association with Winnercomm, the Tulsa, Okla.-based multi-media and production company that recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. "With our roots in horseracing and with our long relationship with ESPN, we are proud of our role in continuing this successful partnership," said Jim Wilburn, president of Winnercomm and NTRA Productions.
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 also conduct the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships, Thoroughbred racing's year-end Championships consisting of eight races and $13 million in purses and awards, the Breeders' Cup Stakes Program and the Great State Challenge. 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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