Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2011 Preakness Thoughts

I had the wrong washed out horse in Sway Away

Luckily the audio problems with the NBC race call of the Kentucky Derby were solved for the Preakness. I though the call of Larry Collmus was adequate but I miss Tom Durkin.

A lot of people complained about NBC not showing the Dixie Stakes won by Paddy O'Prado but I knew this was coming so no complaints here. NBC sticks with what works best-pre-taped emotional driven human interest stories, quick interviews and than the race.

107,000 strong for the Preakness, looks like the Kegasus promotion worked. Someone gets to keep his job at Pimlico.

Is is just me or does Bob Costas look as uncomfortable as he did the first time he ever did a racing gig? It seems his inner voice is just screaming, "get me out of here and onto a baseball broadcast!". Costas looks like he is out on a blind date he wants no part of.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Horse Racing Coverage-Versus Good...SiriusXM Bad.

I enjoyed the Versus Television Coverage of the Kentucky Derby weekend and look forward to it again for their Preakness coverage. In addition to the coverage of the Black Eyed Susan on Friday and Undercard coverage on Saturday-remember after the NBC Coverage there is a 30 minute wrap up show on Versus from 6:30-7:00 pm.

On the radio side very disappointed to learn of the changes (cuts) on SiriusXM Satellite radio's horse racing coverage. Steve Byk's At the Races show was broadcast live from 9 am -12pm weekdays on Sirius Channel 93 (and Channel 210 On XM). When Steve signs off the channel picks up the audio feed of TVG. I make my living on the road driving from appointment to appointment with ample windshield time. When I am driving, I can't be looking at a computer, Smartphone or TV, so listening to Steve Byk on Satellite radio and his many regular guests (Steve Haskin, Gary West, Steve Davidowitz among others) and hearing the audio of TVG was a godsend.

However this week SiriusXM made a programming change, broadcasting only 1 hour of Byk's show (from 8-9am) and no TVG coverage at Noon. Instead at 9 am SiriusXM listeners tuning to the channel now hear sports talk from 3 ESPN owned radio programs- ESPN Chicago’s Waddle and Silvy, ESPN New York’s Mike Lupica Show and Michael Kay Show.

WTF....instead of hearing something I can't hear on regular radio, I now lose racing coverage for simulcasts of general sports talk shows that can be heard on regular AM radio. No word yet if SiriusXM will find another station for Steve Byk's show and TVG coverage. Of course, SiriusXM Executives felt that the middle of Triple Crown season would be the perfect time to cut racing coverage and replace Byk and TVG.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Wrap Up of the Kentucky Derby TV Coverage

The Good:

Production Values
: The NBC Sports Production crew shined as the production value was first rate. And if you watched it in HD, it looked even better. If ever a sport was made for High Definition it is Horse Racing.

Broadcast Crew
: On Derby Day Laffit Pincay III and Randy Moss handled the coverage on Versus while Tom Hammond and Gary Stevens took over on NBC. Always love the old pro Tom Hammond but much prefer Randy Moss over Gary Stevens. Randy Moss explains just enough for the casual viewer to understand without dumbing it down for the hardcore fan.

Hours of Coverage
: No complaints here as Versus had the coverage from 11-4 pm, NBC from 4-7 pm and than Versus with post race coverage from 7-7:30 pm. 6 races including the Derby were shown on the 2 channels.

The Bad:

The segments featuring correspondent Maria Menounos: Like any red blooded male I enjoy seeing a short 30 seconds or so interview with Maria interviewing a hot chick, but it got quite campy when throughout the 2 broadcasts they paraded hot chick after hot chick telling us that they are betting on Pants on Fire because she has a female jockey.

The audio on the race call
: The call by Larry Collmus was actually pretty good, that is if you could actually hear it. I only know what he said because I played it over a couple times on the NBC Sports Website. Collmus followed the golden rule of calling every horse in the field and their position by the first turn, he correctly noticed Animal Kingdom's move down the final stretch,called him the winner smoothly right before the line and than quickly called out the 2nd-4th finishers seconds after.

But let's be honest, who really heard the call? Watching live on NBC all I could hear was an annoying echo combination of Collmus and Churchill Tracks announcer Mark Johnson in the background. Try explaining to the casual fan why two announcers are calling the race at the same time with one slightly louder than the other.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Kentucky Derby Picks 2011

Well here we go, the day is here, the 2011 Kentucky Derby. For a field like this, with no superstar favorite, I look for value. I also look for who looks to be in the best form and looks to be peaking for the Derby. The worst value (now that Uncle Mo is scratched) will be Dialed In and Twice the Appeal. I first considered 9 horses: ArchArchArch, Twice the Appeal, Comma to the Top, Pants of Fire, Dialed In, Mucho Macho Man, Shackleford, Midnight Interlude and Nehro. I than looked at the running style, odds and workouts to narrow it down to a final four.

From the day Shackleford almost held off Dialed In in the Florida Derby, I just keep coming back to this horse, his ML odds are attractive, and he has looked great at Churchill this week and has a win on the track. Can he get the Mile and a Quarter? Who knows, but we can say that for he entire field. He is my pick to hold off the late chargers and win the Kentucky Derby.


1. Shackleford
2. ArchArchArch
3. Mucho Macho Man
4. Nehro

Friday, May 06, 2011

Kentucky Oaks Day brought to you by Twitter

Oaks Day at Churchill as followed on Twitter per select Tweets from people I follow:

Is anyone surprised? RT @TTimes: BREAKING NEWS: Uncle Mo scratched from #kyderby

The world must be coming to an end.....First Dude won a photo!

How weird is it to see Randy on Versus?

What channel is Versus? I can't find it.

Home w/the#KYOaks on now. Don't think I've heard of most of the 'celebs' mentioned in the teaser for tomorrow

Racing in HD is through the roof....years better then what you get on TVG and HRTV

That was some ride by Rosie on St. John's River. Tough beat, but Plum Pretty was best, first move into the strong pace. Figs didn't lie

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Smooth Start for NBC Sports Derby Coverage

Day one of NBC Sports Coverage of the Kentucky Derby started today with a 2 hour slot on the NBC owned Versus channel. The first hour was a "Derby Classics" special featuring the NBC footage of the 2004 Derby won by Smarty Jones.

The second hour was the Derby Draw Coverage. The hosts for NBC/Versus were the venerable Tom Hammond, Gary Stevens and Randy Moss.

Production quality was high and the 3 hosts worked fine together. Based upon the opening introduction in the first hour it appears NBC will focus on the following 3 story lines:

1. Can Calvin Borel , winner of 3 of the last 4 Derby editions, win again on Twice the Appeal
2.Can Rosie Napravnik become the first female Jockey to win the Derby aboard Pants on Fire
3. the heart warming story of Trainer Kathy Ritvo and the Mucho Macho Man ownership group.

The Derby TV coverage draws in a huge amount of female viewers and NBC wisely chose 2 stories with female angles. The Borel story is also a no brainer as most casual fans only know one Jockey, and that is Borel.

Appears NBC is also wary of the Uncle Mo story line. With the chance probably 50/50 that Mo scratches, NBC is not taking the risk to plug a horse that might not even load in the gate.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Top 20 in the Derby

Wednesday at 5-6 pm you can watch the Derby Draw on Versus Network. Speaking of Versus, very happy to read on the Thoroughbred Times website that NBC & Versus will be broadcasting live racing from Saratoga this summer.

The 20 horses in has been in a state of flux- with Toby's Corner dropping out today, and Derby Kitten apparently in, most viewers will need the Derby post position draw to figure out who is even in this years Derby. I don't know about you, but interest has seemed muted this week. Probably a combination of lackluster preps, downfall of any favorites winning the preps, horses dropping out and big National and International news of interest. I don't think it would be a stretch that most fans couldn't name 10 of the horses running this year and even die-hards would have a tough time running off all 20 without peeking.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Versus Kentucky Derby Coverage?

I will be watching the Kentucky Derby next weekend with some casual racing fans. In order to help them with some pre-race background, I told them Versus network would have coverage during the week including the Derby Oaks, the Derby undercard other pre-derby activities including the Derby Draw.

Problem is, if I didn't tell them about the Versus coverage, how would they know?

The hardcore racing fan who reads all the blogs such as you and I know, but once again it seems racing is marketing in a vacuum. Versus is running ads on its network touting the coverage, but unless you are a NHL fan (Versus has been showing the NHL Playoffs) and actually have the network on, you don't see those ads.

Honestly, how many casual racing fans who don't follow the NHL know about the Versus racing coverage.

Versus as of last week had its own website at www.versus.com but now that address takes you to the parent network (NBC) website www.nbcsports.msnbc.com. There is a "Horse" tab at the top which I figured would take me to a page prominently listing the Versus racing coverage schedule for the week. Shouldn't the entire Versus week TV schedule be neatly listed front and center on this page? No such luck, the page has no mention at all of the Versus coverage. It instead features generic articles such as "Uncle Mo is a go for the Derby". Oh gee, thanks.