Like the Super Bowl, year after year, the Kentucky Derby continues to grow as an "event" to watch.
The 2010 Kentucky Derby had a 10.3 overnight rating beating last years rating of 10.2. The 10.3 number is the highest-rated overnight for the Kentucky Derby since Lil E Tee won in 1992.
The Derby is properly marketed not as a sport, but as an event by NBC (Lets hope they get to broadcast the entire triple crown series once ABC is finished with the Belmont this year). It doesn't matter that the field looked weak on paper this year. Do you not watch the Super Bowl if you think the two teams are weak? Of course not.
The Super Bowl is the Sheriff of American Television sporting events, but the Derby serves well as the Deputy Sheriff.
Source: Nielsen Media Research