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 Blue Grass Stakes in Lexington, Ky., and the Arkansas Derby in Hot Springs, Ark., begins Saturday at 5 p.m. ET on NBC Sports.
The hour-long broadcast will originate from Keeneland Racecourse in Lexington, Ky., and is hosted by Lexington’s Tom Hammond alongside three-time Kentucky Derby winner Gary Stevens, who twice won the Arkansas Derby (1985 – Tank’s Prospect; 1990 – Silver Ending) and won the 1998 Blue Grass Stakes aboard Halory Hunter. The NBC Sports broadcast team also includes handicapper Mike Battaglia, reporters Kenny Rice and Donna Brothers from Keeneland. NBC Sports handicapper/reporter Bob Neumeier provides additional coverage and analysis live from the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark.
A total of 19 horses that have run in the Blue Grass Stakes went on to win the Kentucky Derby, with Street Sense in 2007 the most recent. Smarty Jones won the 2004 Arkansas Derby on his way to winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes that year before placing second to Birdstone at the Belmont Stakes.
STEVENS ON SATURDAY’S PREP RACES: “They are both great races with great history behind them that have both produced multiple winners for the Kentucky Derby. I have been fortunate to win the Arkansas Derby twice and the Blue Grass one time. For me, it’s the last real weekend of prep racing prior to the Kentucky Derby.”
STEVENS ON ARKANSAS DERBY: “I love Noble’s Promise in this race. He’s been a bridesmaid to Lookin at Lucky the last couple times out but doesn’t have to face him on this trip. A good effort here by him will put him in my “Super Seven” of Derby horses. Others to watch are Super Saver, the favorite, while D. Wayne Lukas is double loaded with Dublin and Northern Giant.”
STEVENS ON BLUE GRASS STAKES: “I was surprised to see Pleasant Prince in this race because I think it makes it an even better race. Others to look for are Interactif, who finished second to Santa Anita winner Sidney’s Candy in the San Felipe, and Make Music for Me. All he’s done is break his maiden in a stakes race his last time out.”
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 Saturday, March 27 with the Louisiana Derby and Lane’s End Stakes and continued last Saturday with the Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial. These Derby prep races are key competitions to earn a coveted spot in the Kentucky Derby’s 20-horse starting gate.
The series also gives 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.
KENTUCKY DERBY DREAM BET
“CALL THE CLOSE” AND YOU MIGHT BE OFF TO THE RACES: Each day, CNBC viewers compete and test their stock market expertise by playing “Call the Close,” a popular interactive game on CNBC.com and on CNBC Mobile in which participants guess where the Dow Jones Industrial Average will close. Starting today, “Call the Close” participants will have the chance to enter for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2010 Kentucky Derby and a $100,000 Derby DreamBet.
To play the daily “Call the Close” Game and be entered into the “Call the Close” $100,000 Derby DreamBet Sweepstakes, participants must register online or on a mobile device and submit their “call” from 4:30 pm ET until 1:00 pm ET the following Trading Day. Contestants can enter once daily through Wednesday, April 21, 2010. Each day, a Game winner will be selected and at the end of the promotion period one Sweepstakes winner will be selected at random.
The Sweepstakes winner will receive a trip for two to the 136th Kentucky Derby. The Sweepstakes winner will also have the opportunity to direct the placement of a $100,000 win wager on the horse they think will win the Derby and keep any resulting winnings. The DreamBet is sponsored by Churchill Downs Incorporated. NBC Sports may even feature the Sweepstakes winner and their DreamBet in NBC Sports’ exclusive coverage of the 136th Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 1 starting at 4 p.m. ET.
To play the daily “Call the Close” Game participants can utilize CNBC.com’s vast financial resources such as extended after-hour quotes, charts and news for all 30 stocks in the Dow to help make the best prediction and see what’s moving the markets. Throughout each Game, the leader board is recalculated every five minutes as Dow pricing changes. The daily Game winner is the one who makes the ‘call’ closest to the .00 decimal. In the event of a tie, Game winners are determined by whoever comes closest to guessing the S&P 500. Each daily Game winner will have his/her name published online and/or on-air. Participants have the ability to track their daily history and gauge their performance against the index.
Registration in both the “Call the Close” Game and the $100,000 Derby DreamBet Sweepstakes is free and can be accessed at http://calltheclose.cnbc.com. For official sweepstakes rules, and alternate method of entry for the Sweepstakes visit http://calltheclose.cnbc.com/rules.html.
“ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY” DREAM BET: While viewers take in the action at home, on-track fans 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:
* Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Race Course this Saturday.