NBC headlines 2 ½ hours of LIVE national TV coverage of the Stars and Stripes Racing Festival
by Pat McKenna
Special edition of Belmont Park Live to follow on FS2, MSG+, Prime Ticket, FOX Sports San Diego
NYRA is pleased to remind fans that national TV coverage of Saturday’s Stars & Stripes Racing Festival can be found on NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET followed by a special edition of Belmont Park Live from 6-7 p.m. The 2 ½-hour national broadcast window will include five graded stakes, including the Grade 1, $1.2 million Belmont Derby Invitational and the Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational.
NBC will present its award-winning coverage of the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival from 4:30-6 p.m. The NBC broadcast window will include live coverage and on-site analysis of the Belmont Oaks, the Grade 2, $350,000 Belmont Sprint Championship – a 2018 Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series “Win and You’re In” race – and the Grade 3, $300,000 Dwyer.
An impressive 10-horse field that includes seven graded stakes winners will look to conquer the 1 ¼-mile distance on the Belmont Park inner turf in the 40th running of the Belmont Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. Recent Grade 3 Wonder Again heroine La Signare will try to give trainer Brian Lynch his second Stars & Stripes victory following Oscar Performance’s breakout win in last year’s Derby. The French-bred filly will be part of a field of 10 that also includes Grade 1 winner Capla Temptress, Penn Oaks runner-up Thewayiam, Grade 2 winner Paved, and Significant Form, second in the Wonder Again following an impressive victory in the Memories of Silver this spring.
The Belmont Sprint Championship, which carries an all-fees-paid berth to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, will feature a pair of multiple graded stakes winners in Whitmore for trainer Ron Moquett, and Limousine Liberal for trainer Ben Colebrook as they look to square off in a contentious field on tap for the race’s 11th renewal.
Globetrotting conditioner Aidan O’Brien has sent a pair of formidable contenders in the 101st running of the Dwyer for 3-year-olds at one mile on the main track. O’Brien’s contingent includes Mendelssohn, who won the UAE Derby by 18 1/2 lengths and will be looking to rebound off a disappointing Kentucky Derby effort, and Seahenge, a Group 2 winner in Great Britain. Grade 2 Louisiana Derby winner Noble Indy, who ran in both the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, will cut back to one turn for the first time since his career debut last December.
Originating live from Belmont Park, the broadcast will be hosted by Laffit Pincay III and offer racing analysis and insights from Donna Brothers, Randy Moss, Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey and NBC handicapper Eddie Olczyk.
A special edition of Belmont Park Live will follow NBC's telecast and air from 6-7 p.m. ET nationally on FS2 and regionally on MSG+, FOX Sports Prime Ticket and FOX Sports San Diego. Belmont Park Live will offer coverage and in-depth analysis of the Belmont Derby (6:50 p.m.) and the Grade 2, $700,000 Suburban (6:18 p.m.).
Catholic Boy, who bested Analyze It by a neck in the Grade 3 Pennine Ridge last out, will again face that rival and the rest of a talented field in the 69th running of the Belmont Derby. Hawkish, who won the Grade 2 Penn Mile by three lengths last out, also adds to a high-caliber class that will contest the 1 1/4-mile course on Belmont’s inner turf.
Last year’s Belmont Stakes winner Tapwrit will make his stakes return in the Suburban at 1 ¼ miles on the main track, where he will face 10 accomplished rivals, including 7-year-old veteran and recent Grade 2 Brooklyn victor Hoppertunity; The Lieutenant, a 5-year-old half-brother to Triple Crown hero Justify; 2017 Jockey Club Gold Cup hero Diversify; and hard-knocking multiple stakes winner War Story.
Belmont Park Live, presented by Claiborne Farm and stallion Runhappy, is hosted by Greg Wolf with racing analysis from Andy Serling, Maggie Wolfendale, Tom Amoss, Gabby Gaudet and Paul Lo Duca. NYRA track announcer Larry Collmus handles race calling duties.
Now in its fifth year, the Stars & Stripes Racing Festival showcases some of the most accomplished thoroughbreds from North America and around the world. The 2018 festival includes a $500,000 Guaranteed All-Stakes Pick 4 beginning in Race 7 (5:11 p.m.). The NYRA Bets Late Pick 5, available nationwide to NYRA Bets members and to bettors in New York wagering on track or at a simulcast facility, will begin in Race 6 (4:36 p.m.). As is customary on Saturdays through the end of the Belmont Park spring/summer meet, the NYRA Bets Late Pick 5 offers a guaranteed minimum $100,000 payout in the event of a single-ticket winner.