Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 21 No. 22

In Depth

Photo: getty images

As attention turns to Churchill Downs for the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby, we highlight the leaders and dealmakers to know in horse racing, whose work continues to influence the industry and sport in myriad ways.

Bob Baffert, Trainer

Bill Carstanjen, Churchill Downs

Craig Fravel, Breeders' Cup

James Gagliano, The Jockey Club 

Walker Hancock, Claiborne Farm

Joe Harper, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

Rob Hyland, NBC Sports

Chris Kay, New York Racing Association

Lynn LaRocca, New York Racing Association

Kip Levin, TVG

Jon Miller, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network

Todd Pletcher, Trainer

Mike Repole, Repole Stable

Tim Ritvo, The Stronach Group

Belinda Stronach, The Stronach Group

Bill Thomason, Keeneland

Kenny Troutt, WinStar Farm

Johnny Velazquez, Jockeys' Guild

Alex Waldrop, National Thoroughbred Racing Association

Kristin Warfield, Churchill Downs

Also:

Leaders share ideas to improve horse racing

NBC's Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey on how they make the call

By the numbers: Attendance, ad spending in horse racing

 

 


Photo: Courtesy of Santa Anita Park

Bob Baffert is the most famous horse trainer in America, having won four Kentucky Derby races, six Preakness Stakes and two Belmont Stakes, as well as the first Triple Crown in 37 years with American Pharoah. A genuinely original personality, Baffert is known for his white hair, sunglasses and quirky, witty comments, as well as his superb racehorses. He is arguably the face of horse racing for many in the sport. This May at Churchill Downs, he is sending Justify, a big chestnut colt with a white blaze who is expected to be the favorite in the 20-horse race, as well as Solomini.


Photo: courtesy of churchill downs

The 2017 Kentucky Derby week set all-time records under Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen’s leadership, including bringing in $285 million in wagering dollars. Carstanjen first joined Churchill in 2005 as executive vice president, chief developmental officer and general counsel. He was elevated to president and COO in 2009, before being named the 12th CEO of the 143-year-old company in 2014. He has led efforts to renovate the historic facility, including the $37 million Starting Gate Suites to be completed before the next month’s Kentucky Oaks and Derby and a $32 million parking and transportation project.


Photo: getty images

Since taking over the reins of horse racing’s annual year-end competition in 2011, Craig Fravel has brought the two-day championship to new venues, including Keeneland and Del Mar. Fravel is now working on creating global content through partnerships with British racecourses Ascot and Goodwood and Australian track Flemington. He was named Breeders’ Cup CEO after working in executive positions of horse racing companies and associations, including as president of the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club. 


Photo: getty images

James Gagliano has been at the helm of The Jockey Club through its recent support for the Horseracing Integrity Act of 2017, a bill in Congress that would require a uniform, nationwide anti-doping program, as well as the group’s mandating of the use of microchips in regard to foal registration. Gagliano has been with The Jockey Club since 2010 after serving in multiple senior executive positions in horse racing, including executive vice president in charge of The Stronach Group’s Maryland horse racing operations.


Photo: courtesy of claiborne farm

Walker Hancock is the fifth generation of his family to run the storied Claiborne Farm in Paris, Ky., where six of the 12 Triple Crown winners were bred. Hancock, 28, took over as managing director of the farm in 2015. The farm is home to 12 stallions — including War Front, whose stud fee is $250,0000 — and about 220 mares. The farm is expecting about 140 foals this year. Claiborne Farm was founded in 1910, but Hancock recently opened formal tours of the farm and is selling merchandise, including T-shirts and coffee cups. Claiborne has a rooting interest in Kentucky Derby starter Magnum Moon, who was born at the farm in 2015.

 
Photo: Courtesy of Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

It’s almost as if someone from central casting sent Joe Harper in to run the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club.

 

He’s got the pedigree for it. Del Mar was founded by the late crooner Bing Crosby and frequented by movie stars in the 1930s and ’40s. Harper is the grandson of the late legendary movie producer Cecil B. DeMille. 

“Everybody in my family was in the motion picture business,” says Harper, who exudes movie star charm. He looks and sounds ageless and knows and loves horses.

Up until five years ago, he’d talk to trainers and jockeys on Del Mar’s backstretch in the mornings astride a horse. Now 75, he doesn’t ride out anymore, but he’s still omnipresent in the mornings, ready to listen to any horseman’s concern or complaint.

Harper is also in the process of handing over the reins of Del Mar, which he has held since 1990, to Josh Rubinstein. In January, Del Mar announced it had named Rubinstein, who has worked at the San Diego area track in an executive capacity since 1997, as president.

Del Mar’s history is intertwined with Southern California’s entertainment industry.
Photo: getty images

Harper continues to act as CEO, with a plan to eventually give that up to Rubinstein.

Asked if he was leaving some big shoes to fill, Harper, without missing a beat, quipped, “Josh has his own shoes and they work pretty well.”

If you ask Rubinstein how he and Harper are different, he says, “He’s a much better storyteller!”

Rubinstein, 48, says that he wants to continue what Harper has built at Del Mar. The track in northern San Diego County, along with Saratoga in upstate New York, has been a bright spot in an industry that has suffered through a nationwide, decades-long downturn in interest in horse racing. 

Del Mar continues to be the glamorous place “where the turf meets the surf,” as Crosby sang 80 years ago, as beautiful people still gather there in 2018.

After overseeing renovations to Del Mar’s grandstands and the turf course, Harper finally realized a dream of bringing a Breeders’ Cup to the facility last fall. Despite its smaller size, Del Mar broke the event’s on-track wagering records in November.

“Well, Joe remains the CEO, and I hope that continues for some time,” Rubinstein says. “I’ve said this before, but Joe has established an amazing culture at Del Mar that focuses on service and entertainment, or ‘the show,’ as he puts it. I guess you could say, ‘Don’t screw it up’ is somewhere in my job description.”

Harper has been in a management position at Del Mar since 1978. When he was named general manager at the age of 32, the newspapers said he was the youngest racetrack GM in the country. “I am now the oldest general manager at a racetrack,” he says.

There is no set plan for when Rubinstein will take over Del Mar, Harper says. He is more of a feeler than a thinker and has depended on instinct and intuition all of his life.

“I don’t see myself hanging around here until I am ready to keel over,” Harper says. “When it feels right, I will know it.”

Photo: Courtesy of NYRA

Two years after becoming CEO of the New York Racing Association, Chris Kay witnessed history when American Pharoah won the Triple Crown at the 2015 Belmont Stakes, the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years. The enormity of the event — and NYRA’s role in creating a festival atmosphere around it — earned it the Sports Business Award for Sports Event of the Year. Kay also has created a new online wagering program, NYRA Bets, and expanded NYRA’s live racing program, which is now available in 90 million U.S. households. Kay is now working on the redevelopment of Belmont Park into a sports and entertainment destination that will include an arena for the New York Islanders.


Photo: Courtesy of NYRA

Lynn LaRocca was hired as horse racing’s first chief experience officer in 2014, after acting as senior vice president for marketing at Modell’s Sporting Goods, where she led successful sponsorships of the Super Bowl and the MLB All-Star Game. Since joining NYRA she’s led a number of digital initiatives to enhance the fan experience as well as the creation of a new, private hospitality area at Saratoga called The Stretch. It is equipped with a full-service kitchen and concessions, as well as high-definition televisions, video screens and private restrooms. The Stretch will be open in time for the start of the season on July 20. LaRocca also is involved in the redevelopment of Belmont Park.


Photo: Courtesy of TVG

Kip Levin was named CEO of Paddy Power Betfair’s U.S. operations, including the horse racing television channel and leading advanced-deposit wagering platform in May 2014, after serving in senior executive roles at Live Nation and Ticketmaster. He negotiated TVG’s $25 million acquisition of The Stronach Group’s HRTV in 2015, a move that consolidated the television rights for all major U.S. horse racing on the network. HRTV was relaunched later in 2015 as TVG2. Run as complementary networks, the combined channels now show more than 50,000 live races per year, 21,000 more than before the deal.


Jon Miller
Photo: Courtesy of NBC Sports Group
Rob Hyland
Photo: Courtesy of NBC Sports Group


Jon Miller and Rob Hyland have a dream to elevate horse racing back to its rightful place as one of America’s most popular sports and they are using their respective talents, to make that happen.

“Horse racing is an underappreciated and undervalued property that we were committed to growing and developing, and restoring to its status as a major sport in this country,” said Miller, president of programing for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network. “We haven’t stopped, we continue to look for new opportunities, but we’re very pleased with the progress.”

Miller is in charge of acquisitions and has been working to make NBC one-stop shopping when it comes to the sport and its major events. In 2011, NBC united the sport’s Triple Crown on one network by getting the rights back to broadcast the third leg, the Belmont Stakes, from ESPN. In 2012, Miller secured the rights to broadcast the Breeders’ Cup, which also had been on ESPN.

“We wanted to be the exclusive home for the best horse racing in the business, and that’s what we’ve done,” Miller said.

Since then, NBC has added to its coverage, both on its over-the-air network and on NBCSN. Recent additions include coverage of the Royal Ascot in Great Britain, as well as expanded coverage of prep races leading up to the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup.

“In 2011, we had 23 hours of horse racing coverage, and now we’re up to 85,” Miller said.

Ratings have been good (see chart) and Miller credits the passion, commitment, creativity and storytelling of lead producer Hyland as one of the reasons. Hyland has won eight Eclipse Awards, horse racing’s top honor, as well as 18 Sports Emmys, including most recently one for the 2015 Kentucky Derby tease, which was narrated by native Kentuckian Ashley Judd.

“I have worked on horse racing and lived the sport for two decades,” Hyland said. “It’s a sport with great visuals for television and terrific stories, which we love to tell.”

Among the innovations that Hyland has brought to the coverage of horse racing was a “jockey cam” mounted on rider Mike Smith’s helmet at the Breeders’ Cup last fall. In 2017 for NBC’s five-hour Kentucky Derby broadcast, Hyland led the most extensive and comprehensive coverage the network had attempted, with 50 cameras, including cameras on the outriders who escort the victorious horse to the winner’s circle, a camera suspended 80 feet high on the Churchill Downs video board and a robotic camera in the paddock area where horses are saddled for the race.

“I’m currently working with our production team on a bunch of innovations for our [2018] Kentucky Derby coverage related to camera angles and coverage locations,” Hyland said. “We continue to look for ways to bring viewers closer to the action.”

NBC horse racing analysts Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey said that Hyland talks to them all week long, from Monday until the Saturday race, about all aspect of the coverage, from each horse to any possible outcome.

“By the time we go on the air, we’ve already discussed every single item, every single element of the Kentucky Derby show — with Rob,” Moss said. “Rob is amazing. He is very intense, but in a productive way. He cares passionately about putting on the best show possible and he works tirelessly to make that a reality. He also is a horse racing fan.”

Miller said that horse racing has done well on NBC because the network has brought its big event treatment, the same one it brings to the Olympics, the NFL and other major properties. That includes cross-promotion over all of NBC’s platforms, such as the “Today” show, and high-level production. A bet on horse racing is one that has paid off, Miller said.

“We think it’s a very strong sport and getting stronger,” he said. “Those people who predicted horse racing’s demise five or six years ago clearly don’t see what we’ve done and aren’t paying attention to how well it’s doing.”

Photo: Getty images

Thoroughbred racehorse conditioner Todd Pletcher is the all-time leading money-winning trainer in the U.S., with $358,357,838 in lifetime purse earnings through April 16. Pletcher has been named the leading trainer on the New York, Florida and Kentucky circuits 59 times and has won the sport’s top honor — the Eclipse Award for the nation’s outstanding trainer — seven times since 2004. Last year, Pletcher trained the Kentucky Derby winner, Always Dreaming, and the Belmont Stakes winner, Tapwrit. In this year’s Derby, he is sending Magnum Moon, Audible, Noble Indy and Vino Rosso to the 20-horse starting gate.


Photo: getty images

Mike Repole grew up in Queens going to the races at Aqueduct. After founding Vitaminwater, BodyArmor and other successful companies, Repole has been able to dive into his passion of buying, breeding and racing horses. The billionaire horse owner is outspoken on the business model of horse racing, saying among other things that purses must be increased. This year, he co-owns two Kentucky Derby starters Vino Rosso and Noble Indy, which will mark Repole’s fourth appearance in the Kentucky Derby in eight years.


Photo: Courtesy of Santa Anita Park

Tim Ritvo was a thoroughbred racehorse jockey and trainer before becoming a racetrack executive and being named as chief operating officer of The Stronach Group in 2012. The Stronach Group operates some of the largest racetracks in the world, including Gulfstream Park in South Florida; Pimlico, home of the Preakness Stakes; and Santa Anita Park in the Los Angeles area. Ritvo has been focused on improving the business and operation of Santa Anita and recently revealed extensive long-term plans for upgrading the facility, including adding barns for more horses, widening the turf course and seeking more racing days on the calendar.


Photo: getty images

Belinda Stronach, the daughter of auto magnate Frank Stronach, began her career in the automotive sector at Magna International before forming The Stronach Group, which oversees six racetracks in four states. A former member of the Canadian Parliament and among the most powerful businesswomen in Canada, Stronach last year created the Pegasus World Cup, with the world’s richest race purses of $12 million in 2017 and $16 million this year. Last year, Stronach was the recipient of the Longines Ladies Award and the Jockeys’ Guild’s Eddie Arcaro Award, recognizing her leadership in horse racing.


Photo: Keeneland

Keeneland, located in Lexington, Ky., is unique in horse racing as it functions both as a top track featuring graded stakes races and an auction facility for thoroughbred foals, mares and stallions. Bill Thomason’s accomplishments as president and CEO cover those dual focuses as Keeneland’s world famous September yearling sale set records last year, with the average price of a horse sold at $120,487, surpassing the previous high of $112,427. Thomason also oversaw the first running of the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland in 2015, which set a track attendance record of 50,155.


SF Bloodstock’s Gavin Murphy, China Horse Club’s Teo Ah Khing and WinStar’s Kenny Troutt and Elliott Walden.
Photo: winstar farm / tammy brown photography

Kenny Troutt is a self-made billionaire who founded WinStar Farm in Versailles, Ky., in 2000. He has won the Eclipse Award as outstanding owner in 2011 and outstanding breeder in 2016. WinStar stands 22 stallions, including Bodemeister, sire of last year’s Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming, and has an ownership stake in four horses scheduled to start in this year’s big race — Quip, Noble Indy, Audible and Justify. Troutt, who founded Excel Communications and sold it for $3.5 billion in 1998, is now focused on expanding internationally, partnering in ownership of Australian racehorses, purchasing horses overseas and participating in last year’s Royal Ascot. 


Photo: Breeders' Cup

Hall of fame jockey Johnny Velazquez is the all-time leading money-winner in horse racing, with 5,896 victories and total purses of $383,261,359 as of April 16. He’s won 15 Triple Crown races, including the Kentucky Derby twice, with Animal Kingdom in 2011 and Always Dreaming last year. In this year’s Derby, Velazquez is scheduled to ride Vino Rosso for trainer Todd Pletcher and owners Mike Repole and St. Elias Stables, which is owned by Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola. He has served as chairman of the Jockeys’ Guild, the industry trade organization, since 2007. Under Velazquez’s leadership, the Guild was instrumental in establishing the Jockey Injury Database, a nationwide program designed to prevent rider injuries. 


Photo: Harold Roth / NTRA

Alex Waldrop was named CEO of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association in 2007 after working as a lobbyist and attorney at Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs, which counted Churchill Downs among its clients. Waldrop led a successful effort in 2017 to convince the U.S. Treasury Department and the IRS to roll back regulations on how much money in taxes is withheld on high-odds winning bets. That decision, which came after many years of lobbying, resulted in horse players keeping more of their winnings, and horse racing business interests expect that they will invest it back into the track betting windows.


Photo: Sunni Photography

As vice president of partnerships at Churchill Downs, Kristin Warfield helped secure a five-year deal with Brown-Forman last fall to make Woodford Reserve the presenting sponsor of the Kentucky Derby. She’s also worked on brand partnerships with Longines, Fiat-Chrysler, Coca-Cola, Sentient Jet, Moet, G.H. Mumm champagnes, 14 Hands wine, Stella Artois and Humana. Warfield was appointed to the post in 2012 after serving as senior director of partnership development and activation at Churchill since 2009. She previously worked with ASA Entertainment, International Speedway Corp. and the American Automobile Association, where she was director of motorsports.


Hall of Fame thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert and self-made billionaire horse owner Mike Repole both love the sport of horse racing, but they have very different ideas on how to fix the business.

 

“Big days and giveaways bring people in,” said Baffert, who trained 2015 Triple Crown winner American Pharoah and who has won 12 Triple Crown races.

Repole is a winner, too, having founded BodyArmor and Vitaminwater, and spent some of his money on his lifelong love of horse racing. He doesn’t think the sport needs small changes as much as a complete overhaul.

“The best way to improve the business is getting a governing body that oversees all facets of the industry,” Repole said. “The sport needs a racing commissioner like all other sports that would work closely with the racetracks, the breeders, the trainers, the jockeys, the owners and the fans.”

SportsBusiness Journal asked multiple industry leaders for their ideas on how to improve horse racing, and while many gave different answers, four main themes emerged: better storytelling, customer service, going global and tech innovation.

Kip Levin, CEO of TVG, said the cable horse racing network is focused on helping some of its track partners to upgrade to HD. “It’s hard to ask new fans to sample the sport when it isn’t 100 percent in HD,” Levin said.

Walker Hancock, managing director of the historic Claiborne Farm, is interested in improving the sport’s fan experience. That’s why, two years ago, he started an official tour and visitors center for the Paris, Ky.-based breeding operation. Founded in 1910, Claiborne is the place where six of horse racing’s Triple Crown winners were bred, and where Secretariat stood at stud.

“We had tours before, but they were unorganized,” Hancock said. But Hancock’s new tour has brought thousands of visitors. “It was something we didn’t realize until the last couple of years, we can tell this great story,” he said.

NBC owns the long-term rights to broadcast all of the major U.S. horse racing events, as well as its recently acquired rights to broadcast Britain’s Royal Ascot meet and has invested in technology to tell horse racing stories.

“When they head out to the track on a nice, sunny day, people are captivated,” said Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network. “The challenge continues to be getting potential fans out that first time.”

NBC tries to do that on television by showing the people, the stories and the races using special cameras, like a “jockey cam” attached to a race rider’s helmet.

“Someday down the road, I would like for the viewer at home to be able to go online for every major race and be ‘on board’ with the horse/jockey of their choice for every race with two camera angles — front and back,” said NBC horse racing producer Rob Hyland.

NBC began broadcasting the Royal Ascot races last year, and it is not the only horse racing business interest that is going global. Some tracks are focused on international business, either attracting horses and fans from around the world or pushing the American product out globally.

Churchill Downs, in recent years, installed a new points system for horses racing in Europe and Japan to get a prized spot in the 20-horse starting gate at the Kentucky Derby.

“With the introduction of our Japanese and European Road to the Derby programs, we continue to broaden the global reach of our marquee event and look to unify an already passionate international racing fan base around our unique event on the first Saturday in May,” Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said.

As an added bonus, the horse that won this year’s inaugural European Road to the Kentucky Derby is named Gronkowski, after the New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, which generated some NFL media publicity.

At the New York Racing Association, President and CEO Chris Kay has taken a multipronged approach to improving the business and the fan experience, including essentially creating the NYRA’s own television station. “We’ve made great strides in the last few years on our internal TV productions to the point where we now deliver more than 200 hours of live racing each year working with our broadcast partners at NBC, Fox Sports and MSG Networks,” Kay said.

Additionally, NYRA has launched apps that provide a customized portal to its races including replays and stories in HD, as well as an app that allows customers to wager, buy tickets, find parking and order food and merchandise.

One of Kay’s first orders of business when he began as CEO in 2013 was to enhance customer relations. And NYRA was the first racing association to hire a chief experience officer, Lynn LaRocca. Both Kay and LaRocca said that while they are pursuing the newest digital initiatives, they also are reinforcing tried-and-true methods to retain fans and get new ones.

“It has to be a blend of good, old customer service matched with the tools that we’re now lucky to have at our disposal,” LaRocca said. “We work in a business where people skills really matter. Whether it’s at a Saratoga box office on Travers Day, or a more subdued Thursday afternoon at Belmont Park, we value those fundamental skills.”

Del Mar Thoroughbred Club has continued to thrive during the last few decades of horse racing’s downturn, and the main reason is “location, location, location,” said CEO Joe Harper. Del Mar is just north of San Diego and literally borders the West Coast.

“It’s hard for others to listen to our advice when we are sitting out here, 100 yards from the Pacific Ocean,” Harper says. “What advice could I give Aqueduct in the middle of January?”

But old-fashioned customer service is very important to Harper, who said he hires people not just based on their experience or education, but on their personality.

“It’s important in who we are — the smiling face that understands the proper thing is not telling the people where the bathroom is but waking with them and showing them where the bathroom is,” Harper said. “It’s the extra step.”

Randy Moss (left) and Jerry Bailey have teamed up to call horse racing action for 12 years, first with ESPN and now with NBC Sports.
Photo: courtesy of NBC Sports group

Listening to Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey talk, they sound more like brothers than co-workers. They finish each other’s sentences. They make jokes about things like male-pattern baldness.

Moss, a newspaper reporter-turned-broadcaster, and Bailey, a hall of fame jockey-turned-broadcaster, have worked together as horse racing television analysts — first at ESPN starting in 2006 and for the last five years at NBC.

Moss had been at ESPN since 1999, and Bailey retired from riding in 2006 after 31 years and winning 5,893 races with a combined total purse of $296 million. 

When millions of viewers tune in to watch the Kentucky Derby on May 5, Bailey and Moss will be ready to talk about every horse and any possible outcome of the hardest race in the world to handicap. That’s because they spend Derby week together. They go to the track together. They go to Starbucks together. They go to dinner together. They even conduct interviews together.

Moss and Bailey spoke with SportsBusiness Journal’s Liz Mullen about a working relationship that has turned into a friendship.

How did you guys start working together?

MOSS: In 2005, when Jerry was still riding, I got a call from an ESPN executive. He told me they had an opportunity to hire Jerry Bailey as an analyst and how did I feel about it. I said — not that what I said mattered — but I said, “It’s the best thing you could ever do.” I had interviewed Jerry quite a few times, and I knew he was uncommonly analytical and eloquent and intelligent, and I thought he’d be a smash hit, and we’ve been working together ever since.

BAILEY: In January 2006, I had a deal in place with ESPN and I think my first race was the San Felipe (a stakes race at Santa Anita) and my colleague Randy Moss was holding my hand through that first show and ever since. The only thing I really knew about TV was from the opposite side of the camera — being interviewed. On-the-job training started on day one, from how to tune out the guy in your ear to the rhythm of the production to the separation from the broadcast. He really taught me a ton of things.

When you are on the air, who are you talking to?

MOSS: I sort of pretend I am talking to someone who enjoys horse racing, who knows a little about it but isn’t necessarily a horse racing expert. I think it’s very important not to talk down to the audience and at the same time don’t use terminology that a lot of people don’t understand. So it’s kind of a delicate balance in horse racing, because there are a lot of inside jargon things that you can slip in, but you try not to.

BAILEY: I will try to invoke traffic situations that everybody can relate to when I am attempting to explain horses running from the gate to the wire. Such as trying to get off at an exit and you are three lanes over and you need to make a move. Such as trying to weave through traffic when you are going 35 mph versus 75 mph. So that’s how I try to explain what we see as jockeys, which people don’t understand. But as a driver of a car, you can totally relate to.

How do you prepare to talk to the audience about horses and do you usually agree or disagree on horses?

BAILEY: We sit in the same trailer and there is so much back and forth and there is so much information before the Kentucky Derby — 20 horses — more than you have in any other race that we broadcast. It’s like drinking water from a firehose. We are trying to research and entertain. And we talk about all of it before. And when the light goes on, if I forget something Randy will remember that I’ve said it. And if it’s important enough he can bring it full circle and remind me of it. Or vice versa. Because there is a lot of stuff we will banter back and forth with. But if we forget something, one of us will remember it. And that’s important because you don’t want to spend a lifetime researching something and forget it.

MOSS: Sometimes he’ll convince me to like a horse. Sometimes I will convince him to like a horse. What’s amazing is that independently — Jerry here in Fort Lauderdale and me in Minneapolis — we will most of the time end up with the same opinion on the horses and their chances to win. The times that we really disagree on air are the interesting times and times people remember.

Sometimes he’ll convince me to like a horse. Sometimes I will convince him to like a horse. What’s amazing is that independently … we will most of the time end up with the same opinion on the horses and their chances to win. The times that we really disagree on air are the interesting times and times people remember.
Randy Moss
NBC Sports horse racing broadcaster

What was your biggest disagreement?

BAILEY: The funny thing is my dad, he lives in El Paso, Texas, and he watches these races and he called me after the Belmont of California Chrome [where he lost the Triple Crown in 2014]. Because on that show we had the most major disagreement on air that we ever had about the way a jockey rode a horse.

MOSS: And we still disagree.

BAILEY: We can go into it for about 15 minutes right now about why he thinks he’s right and why I think I’m right. It was just an honest disagreement about how we thought Victor Espinoza rode California Chrome. My dad said to me, “Are you OK? It seemed you were kind of mad on the show.”

MOSS: I thought he blew the Triple Crown and the Belmont Stakes and Jerry didn’t.

BAILEY: I thought he didn’t have the horse he had before and I hold him totally blameless.

MOSS: And I’m right, and I’ve been trying to convince Jerry for how many years now? (They both laugh.)

What happens if a long shot wins the Kentucky Derby? How do you prepare for that?

MOSS: One of the biggest challenges in doing what we do and covering horse racing for print and doing it for television is that no matter who wins, whether it’s Arcangues [who won the 1993 Breeders’ Cup Classic with Bailey riding at 133-1], whether it’s Mine That Bird [who won the 2009 Kentucky Derby at 50-1], as soon as that race is over you don’t have time to do any research. So as soon as that race is over you damn well better have good information about the horse that won. Not just why he won, but how he got there, what his back story was, stories about his connections. So that is what we spend our week doing, talking to every one of the people connected to the horse as possible and trying our best to come up with something interesting and preferably something that nobody else has or nobody else knows.

BAILEY: And Randy is the best at it because he works so hard at it.


10-Year Attendance Trends at Triple Crown Races



Turnkey Poll

The following are results of the Turnkey Sports Poll taken in March. The survey covered more than 2,000 senior-level sports industry executives spanning professional and college sports.