Thursday, January 15, 2004 12:00 AM
Live broadcast part of Derby prep national coverage
FLORENCE, KY . . . January 15, 2004 . . . The Lane’s End Stakes, Turfway Park’s premier event and a prep race for Kentucky Derby hopefuls, will air live on ESPN2 on March 20, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today.
The Lane’s End Stakes, a $500,000 Grade 2 event, will be part of Citgo Racing to the Kentucky Derby, a nine-show series on the ESPN networks that provides comprehensive coverage of the key Visa Triple Crown prep races. The Lane’s End Stakes, centerpiece of a five-stakes day at Turfway, in the past has produced a Kentucky Derby winner, three Preakness winners, a Belmont victor, numerous winners of many other Grade 1 races, and three Eclipse Award champions. The race is sponsored by Lane’s End Farm of Versailles, Kentucky, one of the top Thoroughbred breeding and sales operations in the world. Lane’s End Farm is owned by William Farish, U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom.
In all, Citgo Racing to the Kentucky Derby will present 16 Derby prep races, 12 of them live, beginning February 14 with the Fountain of Youth and Hutcheson stakes from Florida’s Gulfstream Park. Highlighting the series will be live telecasts of the Florida Derby, Santa Anita Derby, and Wood Memorial, all Grade 1 races. The series will show races from 10 different venues in seven different states and culminate with a Triple Crown special on April 24, just seven days before the 130th Run for the Roses at famed Churchill Downs.
New to the series for 2004 is bonus coverage presented by Dodge of five major races for older horses in the Breeders’ Cup Classic Division-Powered by Dodge. Races to air in the Classic Division are the Santa Anita Handicap, Strub Stakes, Donn Handicap, Gulfstream Park Handicap, and San Bernardino Handicap.
"'We are happy to announce the addition of these important Classic Division races to the traditional Derby preps, making this the most comprehensive early season series ever aired on one TV network," said Tim Smith, NTRA commissioner and CEO. "This will offer fans the opportunity to not only become well acquainted with the horses that will run in the 2004 Kentucky Derby, but also provide an early look at the best older horses in training.”
ESPN kicks off 2004 horseracing coverage with a special on the 33rd annual Eclipse Awards, Thoroughbred racing's Oscars. The Eclipse Awards recognize the sport's top equine and human performers and are highlighted by the announcement of the Horse of the Year. The 2003 Eclipse Awards ceremony will be held January 26 at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood, Florida. The Eclipse Awards special will air February 7 at 1:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2.