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Derby Draw Dropped by ESPN

March 30th, 2009 by admin · 6 Comments

Another story that got by us Friday involving local media is this one — ESPN is dropping its coverage of the Wednesday night post position selection broadcast during Derby Week.

It looks like the four-letter network is lessening its horse racing coverage. Two weeks ago it announced it would not carry the Kentucky Oaks.

No one around here ever really got into that made-for-TV show down at Fourth Street Live anyway. It required owners of Derby contenders to use some strategy in picking their own post position in order, based on an earlier lottery, in front of live TV cameras.  ESPN tried to make it a big show, but never really pulled it off, even with dramatic signage and a decent crowd.

Now the post position draw will take place at the track, using the same format ESPN used, but without all the interviews and commercial breaks. Maybe some local stations will carry it live, which is as it should be, because few outside Louisville really care. That way it’s not likely to last more than 30 minutes.

As for the Oaks, ESPN’s decision to drop the race is baffling, but indicative that the viewers are losing interest in the sport.

“ESPN still has a great commitment to horse racing,” said ESPN spokesman Mark Mandel, after the network announced it wouldn’t carry the Oaks. Instead, the race will be carried nationally on the Bravo network. Huh?

Bravo apparently caters to ladies, and it’s fillies in the race. But no, that doesn’t make any sense.  Bravo carries shows like Top Chef and Project Runway, not sports.

Tags: Churchill Downs · ESPN · Horse Industry · Kentucky Derby · Marketing · TV

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Steve Coomes // Mar 30, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    I’m happy to see that show go. Talk about making a silk purse show from a sow’s ear event. How anyone thought they could make that exciting is beyond me. I watched it once thinking I surely was missing something, that maybe there was something hidden I and the other horse amateurs missed, but apparently not.

    Just pull the pills and move on. The real excitement is on the track.

  • 2 PKC // Mar 30, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    As for the Oaks, NBC owns Bravo. The NBC crew will have cameras in place for the Derby so that crew will work an extra day of broadcast.

  • 3 Patrick // Mar 30, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Thanks for the link, i’m a big horse racing fan, and one of the original members of the thoroughbred bloggers alliance. I get sad when i read comments like those above. no one in the industry is trying to pull in the casual viewer, it’s a shame. no one realizes that people bet the superbowl because they’ll be watching the superbowl, in horse racing people think they watch the superbowl because they have bet it. i hold out little hope.

  • 4 CJ // Apr 28, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    I guess NBC can use the Oaks as a working prep to the Derby. How sad.
    The only way the sport will appeal to the general public again, is when horses run drug free, and I mean no jugs, steroids, dialuric’s, nothing. If a horse can’t be competative on oats they shouldn’t run. Let true breeding, training and riding lead the way.
    The only problem with this is that the breeding lines have been so polluted since the 70′s, that it will likely take 5 generations to rebuild the industry.

  • 5 stan // Apr 29, 2009 at 7:45 am

    sad to see the coverage of oaks and the draw have been pulled. i can agree, the drawing itself is so important, but espn did go way over the top, along with management at churchill downs trying to make it a pageant show….its funny about racing, what it has become, i can fondly remember as an 8 year old the ushers trying to shoo my out of the track, now the tracks are bringing in klutso the clown and face painters to get moms to bring their kids to the track. boy how things change. the derby will live on, but us horseplayers, we are going by the way of Pontiac, goodbye my little GTO

  • 6 Jim // Apr 29, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    I’m really disappointed with ESPN. This rates up with showing Lacrosse instead of Horse racing a few weeks back

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