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Horse Racing: Counting Down to the Kentucky Derby

Mine that Bird

By Gene Kershner

On the first Saturday of February, 91 days away from the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby, thoroughbred racing’s marquee event, lights are shining brighter on the sport. Camera lights, that is. Horse racing is starting to gain some momentum and much-needed exposure starting with a new racing series on FOX Sports, a new reality television series and the anticipated release of the Mine That Bird movie.

With declining handle, track closings and negative articles regarding drugs in the sport over the past few years, a needed boost of enthusiasm and increased televised racing is just what the doctor ordered. Operating as a sport that has declined in popularity, industry leadership has been injecting marketing dollars in an attempt to return the sport into the nation’s visibility.

Typically, the Triple Crown Series, and to a lesser extent the Breeders’ Cup, have been the sport’s moments in the sun. This year, the additional racing series on the FOX Sports 1 network will supplement the Road to the Kentucky Derby and the Summer at Saratoga series on NBC. This means nine additional dates will showcase the race of the day and another top race from eight different tracks, including the Dubai World Cup (Mar. 29) from Meydan Race Course and the Woodbine Mile (Sept. 14) from Toronto.

The Donn Handicap will kick off “The Jockey Club Tour on FOX” Series next weekend on Sunday afternoon as the first major race of the year for older racehorses. Of the nine dates, seven will be conducted on Sunday afternoons and will include many of the top turf races of the summer including the United Nations from Monmouth and the Sword Dancer from Saratoga. Only two races in the series are focused on 3-year olds - the Blue Grass Stakes from Keeneland in April and the Saratoga Special Stakes in August.

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