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Volume 21 No. 5
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NBC wants permanent site for Breeders’ Cup

NBC Sports, which has the rights to broadcast all of horse racing’s major events in the U.S., has encouraged Breeders’ Cup officials to find a permanent site for the annual event, preferably in Southern California.

“We have encouraged the Breeders’ Cup to find a home and stay with it a while, so you can really establish it as a destination,” said Jon Miller, president of programming for the NBC Sports Group. “It’s important for viewers. It’s important for sponsors, and for the media, to kind of understand, this is where it is going to be.”

Miller has stated that NBC would like the event to remain in Southern California so that the network can take advantage of the daylight and weather on the West Coast and continue to broadcast the final race, the Breeders’ Cup Classic, live at 8 p.m. ET.

NBC, which also has the broadcast rights to horse racing’s Triple Crown, has a contract to televise the Breeders’ Cup through 2015.

The Breeders’ Cup is set to be run at Santa Anita Park in the Los Angeles area through 2014, but it has not named a host track for 2015. The event historically has rotated among major thoroughbred racetracks in the U.S., with a stop in Canada in 1996.

Asked about having a permanent host site for the event, Breeders’ Cup President and CEO Craig Fravel said, “That is one of the things we have kicked around, but I am not going to predict what we are going to do on that.” The Breeders’ Cup board is expected to make a decision on a site for the 2015 event in the first quarter of 2014, he said.

In recent months another Southern California track, Del Mar racetrack in the San Diego area, has made a push to host. It has never been the site of the Breeders’ Cup.

“They are both great tracks,” Miller said of Santa Anita and Del Mar. “Santa Anita has shown themselves to be a great venue for this, but I am sure Del Mar would do just as good a job. But our experience with Santa Anita has been terrific.”

Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, also has bid for the Breeders’ Cup in recent years. Asked about the viability of broadcasting a prime-time Breeders’ Cup show from that Louisville, Ky.-based track, Miller said, “It depends on what the lighting was and time of year. We would certainly take a look at that, but you know, 8 o’clock is a long day on the East Coast.”

— Liz Mullen