We’re not sure if TVG’s claim it is “America’s Horse Racing Network” applies any longer. Given an agreement reached between the New York Racing Association and Churchill Downs Inc., TVG no longer will be to carry races from any NYRA track or Churchill Downs on its main network.
Races emanating from New York State and Louisville Kentucky is now the exclusive province of the Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 networks, including approved regional channels. Belmont Park opens its spring meet tomorrow.
Racing from Stronach Group properties, namely Santa Anita, Gulfstream Park, Laurel Park and Golden Gate Fields, will remain on TVG, along with racetracks in other parts of the country and its an expanding array of international events.
Soon after the Covid-19 pandemic wiped out live and broadcast sports, television networks became desperate for sports programming. NBC entered a partnership to co-broadcast TVG’s Trackside Live program weekends on NBC’s sports network, NBCSN.
Fox will broadcast NYRA and Churchill races exclusively from New York’s metropolitan area tracks, Saratoga, and Louisville. It will be shown on Fox Sports cable channels FS-1 and FS-2, depending on day of the week and time slots available. This has the earmarks of a liquid situation and will be a work in progress.
Racing fans and bettors, man your remotes!
The not-so-hidden agenda here is a fight for parimutuel wagering dollars. In this “new normal” world, NYRABets and Twinspires.com are willing to be friendly competitors, just as TVG.com and Xpressbet co-exist in the current enemy-of-my-enemy environment.
Churchill Downs, NYRA tracks and Stronach Group venues can be bet on all wagering platforms. The difference is streaming video vs. television broadcast programming; laptops and phones vs big-screen TVs.
What this all means for the future of Triple Crown broadcasts, an NBC network staple when the year started, is unclear.
At this juncture TVG viewers may only see NYRA races on TVG.com digital platforms, the same way Churchill races have been seen since its meet began in mid-May. Churchill Downs racing does, however, appear on TVG2.
The NYRA-Churchill broadcast partnership, a.k.a America’s Day at the Races, will be seen only on Fox. The regional MSG+ network airs daily, full-card coverage of racing from Belmont.
Bettors currently can wager on whatever betting platform they wish, except in Las Vegas. Wagering on Churchill Downs is not permitted anywhere in the state, not even via app.
So it boils down to a battle of advance-deposit wagering platforms, broadcast rights serving as weapons. And there is little doubt this deal will negatively impact TVG’s market share.
As a Betfair property, TVG still helps serve its parent’s off-track business interests by helping to promote the company’s legal, albeit limited, online casino and sports betting market. Part of the rift involves TVG’s refusal to accept TwinSpires.com advertising on its popular broadcast network.
What the Fox programming will lack is a video presentation of morning workouts in the manner that Xpressbet and 1/ST Bet makes use of its XBTV workout network, although it has made it available for production support to other racing networks, including TVG, NBCSN, and Fox.
The new accord between Churchill, NYRA and Fox Sports has been rumored for some time and obviously the racing product from Belmont Park and Churchill Downs is, on paper, Grade 1. But TVG also has excellent racing products, and a lot of it. Stay tuned suddenly has a lot more urgency.
Which Grade 1 Winner Do You Like?
On the tube, it will be TVG and Fox Sports going head-to-head. At Belmont Park, it will be the Got Stormy vs Rushing Fall and a strong supporting cast in the Grade 3 Beaugay at a mile and a sixteenth on the Widener Turf.
If recency is your handicapping thing, Got Stormy (7-5) has the edge, making her third start this year. She was beaten narrowly in her latest by male River Boyne in Santa Anita’s G1 Kilroe Mile. She’s won on the Belmont lawn in the past but is winless in four starts at the trip.
If, however, you think pace makes the race regardless of surface, even over a fresh lawn, it most probably will be Rushing Fall (6-5) controlling things up front. She is 2-for-2 on Long Island green and owns a (3) 2-1-0 slate at the trip. On figures, it’s a jump ball.
If you don’t care for either at the price, there’s Horse for Course Fifty Five, 7-for-11 at Belmont and a winner of half her 12 starts at the distance. She’s a tad slower on figures than her very talented rivals but is viable as “the longer Chad” at 5-1. Joel Rosario will have her rolling to the wire.