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Volume 20 No. 45
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Aston Martin sponsoring debut of ‘jockey cam’ at Breeders’ Cup

This year’s broadcast of the Breeders’ Cup on NBC will feature star jockey Mike Smith wearing a “jockey cam,” sponsored by British luxury automaker Aston Martin.

Financial terms of the deal were not announced. Aston Martin is in its second year as a sponsor of the Breeders’ Cup, which will be run Friday and Saturday at Del Mar Thoroughbred Club in the San Diego area and broadcast on NBC and NBCSN.

It’s the first time that a jockey will wear a camera on his helmet while competing in a major horse race in the United States.

NBC Sports producer Rob Hyland has been working on putting a camera on a jockey for years. NBC broadcasts all of horse racing’s major events, the three Triple Crown races and the 13-race Breeders’ Cup.

Jockey Mike Smith, who’ll ride Arrogate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, will wear the camera.
“I want one day for there to be 20 cameras on the 20 jockeys in the Kentucky Derby and for the viewer at home to be able to go online and jump onboard with their horse and be able to have it as a second-screen experience,” Hyland said. “I think that’s where this sport needs to be. It’s where motorsports are.”

But horse racing presents unique challenges involving human and equine athletes and, until now, the technology hasn’t been developed to the point that a camera can capture broadcast-quality images and sound and still be light enough for a jockey to wear in a race.

The camera that will be used, designed by U.K.-based Equine Productions, weighs about 4 ounces.

The Breeders’ Cup chose Smith to wear the jockey cam because he is the winningest jockey in the history of the Breeders’ Cup, which culminates with the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic. Smith will ride Arrogate, last year’s Classic winner, in the race, which will be broadcast live by NBC at 8 p.m. ET. It could not be determined whether Smith would be compensated for wearing the camera.

“What I am hoping it will bring the viewers at home is to appreciate how fast and intense horse racing truly is,” Hyland said.

NBC and NBCSN will broadcast 11 hours of horse racing, beginning with a betting show Thursday. Smith will wear the jockey cam in all of his races, perhaps as many as nine, but jockeys’ mounts for the Breeders’ Cup races had not been released by midweek last week, so the exact number was not yet known.