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I’LL HAVE ANOTHER SEEKS FIRST TRIPLE CROWN IN 34 YEARS AS NBC SPORTS GROUP PRESENTS THE 144th BELMONT STAKES

NEW YORK – June 5, 2012 – The NBC Sports Group will surround I’ll Have Another’s quest to become the first horse in 34 years to capture horse racing’s elusive Triple Crown with 11 hours of coverage across both NBC and the NBC Sports Network. Coverage includes: a 30-minute documentary I’ll Have Another – Charging Toward History on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET; re-broadcasts of I’ll Have Another’s victories in both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes Thursday night on NBC Sports Network; Belmont classics on Friday on NBC Sports Network; a one-hour Live from Belmont on Friday on NBC Sports Network; and 4.5 hours of coverage from Belmont on both NBC and NBC Sports Network on Saturday. The coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. ET on Saturday on NBC, and is preceded by 1.5 hours of coverage on NBC Sports Network, and followed by a 30-minute post-race show on the channel.

COMMENTATORS: NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the 144th Belmont Stakes will feature co-hosts Bob Costas, a 23-time Emmy Award-winner, and NBC’s lead horse racing voice Tom Hammond; Hall-of-Fame jockey and three-time Belmont Stakes winner Gary Stevens; analyst Randy Moss; contributing analysts/handicappers Mike Battaglia and Bob Neumeier; host Laffit Pincay, III; Hall-of Fame jockey and two-time Belmont Stakes-winner Jerry Bailey; reporters Kenny Rice, Donna Brothers and Jay Privman; and race caller Larry Collmus.

PRODUCTION TEAM: NBC’s coverage will be produced by Rob Hyland, the producer of this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, and a veteran of the network’s horse racing coverage since 2001, and directed by Sunday Night Football and NBC Sports’ horse racing director, Drew Esocoff.

The coverage on NBC Sports Network is produced by Pierre Moossa and directed by Doug Grabert. Fred Gaudelli is the coordinating producer of NBC Sports Group’s Triple Crown coverage. The executive producer of NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network is Sam Flood, who has produced 11 Triple Crown races for the network.

NBC Sports conducted a conference call yesterday with its broadcasting and production crew. For a complete replay of the call, dial 719-457-0820 and enter passcode 1660940. Below are comments from the call with participants, Rob Hyland, Tom Hammond, Gary Stevens, Randy Moss and Larry Collmus:

*If you would like a full transcript of the call, please email me at: adam.freifeld@nbcuni.com.

HYLAND ON PRODUCING A POTENTIAL TRIPLE CROWN: “I’ve been a part of three Super Bowls, six Olympic games and a number of other high profile sporting events, but to have the opportunity to produce an event and an athletic achievement that hasn’t been done in 34 years is an honor and a responsibility that we don’t take lightly.”

HYLAND ON BELMONT PRODUCTION: “We will have 38 cameras on this show. We’ve added three cameras and a bunch of drop locations so you’ll have new imagery pop up at this year’s Belmont. We have two super slo-mo cameras, one X-Mo camera, a blimp for aerial coverage. In total, about 200 members of the production and engineering crew that will cover this year’s Belmont.”

HYLAND ON HIS PRODUCTION PHILOSOPHY: “We have the same philosophy on all three of our Triple Crown races. It’s a large audience for the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness, and obviously an even bigger one for a Triple Crown race. We just make sure to explain things thoroughly. We continually update graphics with odds and try to make it as viewer friendly for the novice as possible.”

HAMMOND ON WHERE HE WAS FOR THE TRIPLE CROWN IN 1978: “I happened to be standing three feet from Chic Anderson, the caller for at Belmont Park and on CBS that day. And it was one of the most thrilling moments that I’ve seen in horse racing.”

HAMMOND ON WHAT A TRIPLE CROWN ATTEMPT MEANS TO HIM: “An event like this is why we became sportscasters in the first place, a chance to be a part of history, to interpret it, to put it in context, to help reviewers enjoy all that’s going on.”

HAMMOND ON THE HYPE OF THE BELMONT: “Rob (Hyland) and I took a trip to Eugene, Oregon for track and field this past weekend and I can’t tell you how many complete strangers came up to me and said, ‘Are we going to have a Triple Crown?’ It’s one of those things that the average sports fan can identify with because it’s become one of the most difficult things to achieve in all the world of sports. It captures the imagination of everyone that has even a slight interest in the world of sports.

STEVENS ON STEVE CAUTHEN’S INFLUENCE ON HIS CAREER: “It’s one of the reasons I became a jockey was the 1978 Triple Crown. I remember being at the small racetrack in Boise, Idaho, sitting on a table watching the young Steve Cauthen win aboard Affirmed, and the great battle the last 1/4 of a mile. There was a head separating them at the eighth pole, and there was a head separating them at the finish line. And it gave me a lot of incentive to go on and be a jockey.”

STEVENS ON MARIO GUTIERREZ: “I can’t tell you the amount of pressure that’s on a young jockey or even an experienced jockey. And with Mario being 25 years old and the success he’s had at the many different racetracks he’s competed at in a brief career, I have all the confidence in the world that he can pull it off it everything goes right.”

STEVENS ON BROADCASTING A TRIPLE CROWN: “Sitting in the broadcast stand alongside Tom Hammond and Randy Moss and all of our crew, I’ve got the best seat in the house. I get to talk about it and talk to my experiences and what it takes to win a Triple Crown, and just how difficult it is. I was beaten a short margin by Touch Gold in ’97 and came back in ’98 and became the spoiler. So I was on both sides of the fence and hope to be able to talk about those things, and let the fans out there know just how difficult it is.”

MOSS ON THE MOSS JINX: “I’m on my 33rd year now covering the Triple Crown and I have yet to see a Triple Crown winner. I’m beginning to think it’s me.”

MOSS ON I’LL HAVE ANOTHER’S CHANCE TO WIN TRIPLE CROWN: “I’ve got friends that don’t follow horse racing that closely that come to me and say, ‘Can this horse do it? Can I’ll Have Another do it?’ In my highly unscientific way of reasoning I tell them that I think he’s got between a 40% and a 50% chance to win. And they say, ‘Wow that’s good.’ But then I say, well, but I would’ve told you Smarty Jones had about a 70% to 75% chance of winning and he didn’t pull it off.”

COLLMUS ON HIS THOUGHTS AFTER PREAKNESS: “Right after those horses crossed the wire at the Preakness, the next thought in my head was, ‘Oh boy, here it comes.’ And it really is extremely exciting.”

COLLMUS ON HIS EXCITEMENT CALLING THE BELMONT: “The Preakness was about as excited as I’ve ever gotten in a race call. But I think that the Belmont Stakes with this horse going for the Triple Crown is something unlike I’ve never been involved in before. I’ve certainly never called a horse going for the Triple Crown. And, in fact, when Affirmed won it, I was 11 years old. So it’s definitely pretty exciting stuff for me.”

COLLMUS ON WHERE HE CALLS THE RACE: “I know where my location is when I call the races – an open window location – so the crowd is just going to be raucous. I think it’s going to make it all the better.”

COLLMUS ON IF HE HAS LINES PREPARED IF THERE IS A TRIPLE CROWN: “You have to be prepared for something like that and to have it in your head what you would want to say when a moment like this happens. So, yes, there’s definitely something in my mind that hopefully, if the horse wins, will come out the way I would like it to come out.”

COLLMUS ON IF HE WILL BE NERVOUS CALLING THE RACE: “They’re going to be there. There’s no doubt about that. Every Triple Crown race I’ve called – all five of them – I’ve had nerves. I mean, I think that’s natural. When you’re dealing with a situation like this, I think you need to be on edge a little bit. I was less nervous this year for the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness than I was for the Triple Crown races last year having had one under my belt. But yes, there’ll be nerves, but I should be able to control those nerves enough to make the race call that I want to make.”

NBC SPORTS GROUP BELMONT WEEK COVERAGE

Thurs. June 7

7:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. I’ll Have Another – Charging Toward History NBC Sports Network
8 p.m. - 10 p.m. Rebroadcast of 2012 Kentucky Derby NBC Sports Network
10 p.m. - Midnight Rebroadcast of 2012 Preakness NBC Sports Network
Fri. June 8 4 p.m. - 5 p.m. Belmont Classics NBC Sports Network
5 p.m. - 6 p.m. Live from Belmont NBC Sports Network
Sat. June 9 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Belmont Stakes Saturday NBC Sports Network
4:30 p.m. - 7 p.m. Belmont Stakes NBC
7 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Belmont Post-Race Show NBC Sports Network

FEATURES AND STORYLINES: The features that the NBC Sports Group are preparing for its Belmont coverage include:

  • I’ll Have Another’s road to the Triple Crown, including a feature on owner Paul Reddam;
  • Bob Costas interviews I’ll Have Another trainer Doug O’Neill;
  • Costas essay on the elusive Triple Crown;
  • Costas essay on Triple Crown attempts and failures since 1978;
  • Jockey Mario Gutierrez and his upbringing in El Higo, Mexico, a small city just outside of Veracruz;
  • Feature on the last Triple Crown-winning jockey, Steve Cauthen, who won at age 18 aboard Affirmed;
  • Belmont Challengers: who could spoil I’ll Have Another’s run to the Triple Crown?

SINCE THE LAST TIME A TRIPLE CROWN WAS WON IN 1978:

  • Perfect Games in MLB: 12
  • 99-Yard Touchdown Passes in the NFL: 9
  • Walk Off Home Runs in World Series games: 9
  • 4-Home Run games in MLB: 6
  • Repeat Super Bowl Champions: 5 (Steelers, 49ers, Cowboys, Broncos, Patriots)
  • PGA TOUR rounds of 59: 4
  • Grand Slam in Tennis: 1 (Steffi Graf, 1988)

I’LL HAVE ANOTHER – CHARGING TOWARD HISTORY: When I’ll Have Another came from behind to edge Bodemeister in the Preakness Stakes, he put himself into position to capture one of the greatest and most elusive prizes in all of sports - The Triple Crown

With unprecedented access to I’ll Have Another and Team O’Neill, connections from the major challengers, including Dale Romans (Dullahan), and Michael Matz (Union Rags), and behind-the-scenes footage from the off-the-track events leading up to the Belmont Stakes, I’ll Have Another – Charging Toward History will bring viewers deep into the inner world of the sport of horse racing, providing an unprecedented look at the days and events leading up to Saturday’s Belmont Stakes.

I’ll Have Another – Charging Toward History premieres Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET with re-airs on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET and kicking off Saturday’s Belmont Day coverage at 2:30 p.m. ET.

“America’s Best Racing,” a joint venture between the NTRA and The Jockey Club, produces the special for NBC Sports Network. The “America’s Best Racing” production team is lead by the Hennegan Brothers, Eclipse Award Winning Documentary filmmakers and Emmy Award Winning Executive Producer Ken Adelson.

BELMONT EXTRA

Taking a page from Kentucky Derby Extra and Super Bowl Extra, Belmont Extra is the online connection to coverage of the 144th Belmont Stakes. Available at NBCSports.com with live streaming of the NBC broadcast of Belmont, other features of Belmont Extra include:

  • Four online-only camera angles that showcase the all the activity and buzz around I’ll Have Another’s pursuit of history, including an isolation camera on I’ll Have Another in the lead-up to and during the race;
  • Online-only analysis by NBC Sports Group horse racing commentators;
  • Replays and footage from I’ll Have Another’s victories at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes;
  • A video simulation that pits I’ll Have Another against 11 previous failed Triple Crown contenders including Smarty Jones, Funny Cide, Spectacular Bid and War Emblem. This simulation is available now at: http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/22825103/vp/47634342 - 47634342
  • A video simulation of this year’s Belmont field. Can I’ll Have Another win the Triple Crown? This simulation will be available following the post draw on Wednesday.

BELMONTSTAKES ALL-ACCESS

NBC Sports Group will implement its All-Access social media strategy for Belmont week on both NBC and NBC Sports Network. A dedicated social media producer will be on-site for behind-the-scenes content, including breaking news, photos and video from Belmont Park.

Twitter: Viewers and Tweeters alike will be encouraged to join the conversation by using the hashtag #BELMONT. Reminders will appear on screen throughout all of NBC’s Belmont Stakes coverage.

  • On-air integration of live tweets from Triple Crown hopeful I’ll Have Another (@Ill_HaveAnother), his jockey Mario Gutierrez (@Mario_Hastings), and trainer Doug O’Neill (@DougONeill1) will be featured on screen throughout the broadcasts to keep viewers up to date with what’s happening and trending on Twitter.
  • For the ultimate horse racing fan, @NBCSN will live tweet all week leading up to the Belmont, including the Draw, and provide interactive trivia and “Did You Know” tweets during the broadcast. It will give fans behind the scenes access and information like never before.
  • Many members of the broadcast team will be tweeting in the days leading up to the race with insight, breaking news, and behind the scenes access. Follow Larry Collmus (@larrycollmus), Donna Brothers (@donnabrothers), Gary Stevens (@HRTVGary), Kenny Rice (@KennyRiceSports), Randy Moss (@RandyMossTV), and Laffit Pincay (@HRTVLaffit).

Facebook: Fans will have the chance to join in on the Belmont broadcast:

  • Everyone at home can pick their winner with the “Choose the Winning Horse” Facebook poll on www.facebook.com/NBCSports. The nation’s votes will be tallied and shown on-air during the Belmont Stakes broadcast.

TRIPLE CROWN RATINGS INFO

BELMONT STAKES: Last year’s first broadcast of the Belmont Stakes on NBC since 2005, which was won by 24-1 long shot Ruler on Ice, drew 6.8 million viewers, 44 percent higher than the 2010 race on ABC (4.7 million), making it the most-watched Belmont in a non-Triple Crown year since NBC last broadcast the Belmont in 2005 (7.7 million).

BELMONT STAKES VIEWERSHIP SINCE 1994 (Race Portion):

2011 6.8 million NBC
2010 4.7 million ABC
2009 6.6 million ABC (Borel going for unprecedented jockey Triple Crown)
2008 13.1 million ABC (Triple Crown at stake - Big Brown)
2007 4.9 million ABC
2006 5.0 million ABC
2005 7.7 million NBC
2004 21.9 million NBC (Triple Crown at stake - Smarty Jones)
2003 15.7 million NBC (Triple Crown at stake - Funny Cide)
2002 12.4 million NBC (Triple Crown at stake - War Emblem)
2001 6.8 million NBC
2000 4.3 million ABC
1999 9.3 million ABC (Triple Crown at stake - Charismatic)
1998 9.1 million ABC (Triple Crown at stake - Real Quiet)
1997 8.2 million ABC (Triple Crown at stake - Silver Charm)
1996 4.0 million ABC
1995 5.1 million ABC
1994 5.9 million ABC

14.8 MILLION WATCH KENTUCKY DERBY: NBC’s coverage of the 2012 Kentucky Derby drew 14.8 million viewers, the third most-watched Kentucky Derby in 23 years, and up two percent from last year’s Derby. Since implementing NBC Sports Group’s ‘Big Event Strategy,’ the last four Kentucky Derby races have all recorded at least 14.5 million viewers.

NBC’s coverage of the Kentucky Derby over the last 12 years averages more than 2 million more viewers than the previous 12 Kentucky Derby broadcasts on ABC (14.1 million vs.12.0 million, up 17 percent).

8.1 MILLION WATCH PREAKNESS STAKES: NBC Sports coverage of the Preakness Stakes drew 8.1 million viewers, the fourth consecutive year that the Preakness drew more than eight million viewers. Since NBC began broadcasting the Preakness in 2001, every Preakness telecast on NBC over that period attracted more viewers than any Preakness telecast on ABC in the previous seven years. Viewership for the Preakness is up an average of 60% in the 12 years on NBC compared to the previous eight years on ABC.

NBC SPORTS GROUP AND HORSE RACING: The NBC Sports Group is the exclusive home to the most important and prestigious events in horse racing, including the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup, which was broadcast on NBC from 1984-2005. Last year marked the first time that all three Triple Crown races appeared on one network since NBC last aired the Triple Crown in 2005. NBC has been the exclusive home of the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness Stakes since 2001. This year, the NBC Sports Group will present 27½ hours of Triple Crown coverage across NBC and NBC Sports Network.

NBC Sports Group is also the home to Summer at Saratoga, Autumn at Keeneland, and, in collaboration with The Jockey Club, the Road to the Kentucky Derby series that provided live coverage of six major prep races for the 2012 Kentucky Derby.