Stars Align for NBC Sports’ Breeders’ Cup Classic Coverage

It isn’t every day that a horse race can be described as “star-studded,” but this year’s running of the 31st Breeders’ Cup Classic will feature competitors recognizable to even the most casual fans. NBC Sports Group plans to take advantage of this already storied field, focusing the spotlight on near-Triple Crown winner California Chrome.

“I invested my entire spring in [California Chrome’s] campaign, and he won the Derby, won the Preakness, and lost at Belmont in a close fourth-place finish,” says NBC Sports Coordinating Producer Rob Hyland. “But his return ¾ [director] Pierre Moossa and I on our way out were discussing having a dedicated Chrome cam. He’s that big of a story for this race.”

California Chrome will face off against 2014 Belmont Stakes victor Tonalist at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, CA, as well as Shared Beliefs, who missed the Triple Crown due to injury but is widely considered to be the best in the field.

“There are so many cool stories,” says Hyland. “The Classic, I think, is one of the coolest races that we’ve done in a long time in terms of storylines.”

NBC will broadcast the Breeders’ Cup Classic live in primetime tomorrow at 8 p.m. ET. The network’s coverage of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships begins tonight at 5 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network and continues tomorrow at 3 p.m. on NBCSN for a total of 8.5 hours of Breeders’ Cup coverage. NBC Sports Live Extra —NBC Sports Group’s live-streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets — will stream Breeders’ Cup coverage on NBC and NBCSN.

NBC will deploy 37 cameras, including the Chrome cam, super-slow-motion cameras, and an Inertia Unlimited X-Mo camera on the finish line. For the third consecutive year, an SUV equipped with a gyro-stabilized camera will follow the race from an inner working track.

“We’re going to continue to showcase the venue and this unique setting,” says Hyland. “Pierre Moossa has added a couple handheld cameras to really capture the scenery and the environment. It won’t just be the horses on the track. We will go in and out of commercial with the cool areas of this unique venue and the glamour associated with the major horseracing event. We’re going to make an effort to dress the show in the appropriate images to and from commercial for the viewer at home to say, Man, I wish I was there.”

Hyland, producer of NBC’s Triple Crown coverage, will produce NBC’s Breeders’ Cup coverage alongside Moossa from NEP’s ND4/Double Eagle production unit. Billy Matthews will produce NBCSN’s coverage. Executive producer of NBC Sports and NBCSN is Sam Flood, who has produced 12 Triple Crown races.

The NBC Sports Group coverage of the Breeders’ Cup will feature Tom Hammond, Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey, veteran horseracing analyst Randy Moss,  and contributing analysts/handicappers Bob Neumeier and Eddie Olczyk, the latter in his Breeders’ Cup debut. Additional reporting will be provided by host/reporter Laffit Pincay III; reporters Kenny Rice, Donna Brothers, Jay Privman, Nick Luck, and Carolyn Manno; and NBC Sports Group’s Josh Elliott. NBC’s Triple Crown race caller Larry Collmus will call all of the Breeders’ Cup races.

Yesterday, the Breeders’ Cup and the NBC Sports Group announced a 10-year media-rights partnership extension through 2025. Under it, NBC and NBCSN will combine to present at least eight hours of live coverage of the Breeders’ Cup, including live primetime coverage of the Breeders’ Cup Classic on NBC from Santa Anita Park in 2016 and from the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club outside San Diego in 2017.