Jump to: navigation, search

United States Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing on television

Triple Crown Productions was formed in 1985 after CBS terminated its contract with the New York Racing Association. Prior to that, the individual racing associations made their own deals with the TV networks (ABC and CBS). ABC Sports won the rights to broadcast all three races, as well as many prep races. Ratings went up after the package was centralized. This arrangement continued until 2001, when NBC Sports took over. Under NBC, ratings continued to go up, by as much as 20 percent in some years. It didn't hurt that many horses, like Funny Cide and Smarty Jones, were making Triple Crown runs during those years (although all of them failed).



Kentucky Derby

On May 3, 1952, the first national television coverage of the Kentucky Derby took place.

In 1985, a group of people wanted to increase the stature of the Triple Crown on television. Other than the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes were considered the two "other" races. ABC Sports, which had broadcast the Derby since 1975, wanted to air all three races. CBS Sports, which showed the other two races, had much lower ratings for them, with the possible exceptions of years in which the Crown was at stake like 1973, 1977, and 1978.

In October 1999, NBC Sports won the rights to broadcast the three races in 2001.

Preakness Stakes

In 1948, the Preakness was televised for the first time by CBS.

In 1977, ABC was awarded the contract to televise the Preakness.

In October 1999, NBC Sports won the rights to broadcast the three races in 2001.

Belmont Stakes

Broadcast history:

  • ABC Sports - 1986–2000
  • NBC Sports - 2001–2005
  • ESPN on ABC - 2006–present[1]

From 2002 to 2004, the Belmont had the highest ratings of any horse race on television.

As of May 21, 2005, the VISA Credit Card company officially withdrew its sponsorship of the U.S. Triple Crown, effective in 2006.[citation needed] It relieves VISA of paying the $5 million bonus to the owner of the horse that wins the Triple Crown. Triple Crown Productions has sponsored the races since 2006. The $5 million bonus remains intact.

Some[who?] believe VISA withdrew its sponsorship as a result of the New York Racing Association's decision to break with the other two tracks on a television contract. On October 4, 2004[1], NYRA announced that the American Broadcasting Company and ESPN would hold television rights to the Belmont Stakes, breaking from Triple Crown Productions' deal with NBC Sports[citation needed]. NBC Sports holds the broadcasting rights to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes until 2010.

See also

  • Thoroughbred Racing on NBC
  • Thoroughbred Racing on CBS
  • Thoroughbred Racing on Fox


  1. 1.0 1.1 John Scheinman, "ABC Will Broadcast Belmont Stakes Starting in 2006," The Washington Post, Tuesday, October 5, 2004.


Premier Equine Classifieds


Subscribe to our newsletter and keep abreast of the latest news, articles and information delivered directly to your inbox.

Did You Know?

Modern horse breeds developed in response to a need for "form to function", the necessity to develop certain physical characteristics in order to perform a certain type of work... More...

The Gypsy Cob was originally bred to be a wagon horse and pulled wagons or caravans known as Vardos; a type of covered wagon that people lived in... More...

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Arabian horse bloodline dates back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses spread around the world by both war and trade.... More...

That the term "Sporthorse" is a term used to describe a type of horse rather than any particular breed... More...