It's Saturday May 21 and we've finally reached race day at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. The 2011 Preakness Stakes will go down later this afternoon and we'll finally figure out whether Animal Kingdom will get a crack at Triple Crown immortality in three weeks at Belmont. As would be expected with such a big story, NBC will feature wall-to-wall coverage.
Thanks to their deal with VERSUS, NBC will be able to provide over four hours of coverage around the 136th running of the Preakness Stakes. Versus will handle the opening two hours, which will include three early races. NBC will follow up with two hours of coverage culminating in the main event. VERSUS will then follow up with a half hour of wrap-up. If you aren't sure whether you have VERSUS you can do a search by zip code.
Sat. May 21, Live from Pimlico, 2:30-4:30 p.m., VERSUS
Sat. May 21, Preakness Stakes, 4:30-6:30 p.m., NBC
Sat. May 21, Preakness Wrap-up, 6:30-7 p.m., VERSUS
NBC's coverage of the race will be co-hosted by Bob Costas, Tom Hammond, and two-time Preakness winner Gary Stevens. The on-air team will include race-caller Larry Collmus, contributing analysts/handicappers Mike Battaglia and Bob Neumeier, reporter Kenny Rice and on-track reporter Donna Brothers. The entire telecast is being produced by Fred Gaudelli, whose first ever horse racing production was the Kentucky Derby earlier this month.
The Kentucky Derby drew 14.5 million viewers, which made it the fourth most watched Derby of the past 21 years. NBC executives have to be hoping and praying for an Animal Kingdom victory today. An Animal Kingdom win would mean increased ratings for the Belmont Stakes in three weeks. Victory by any other horse will only hurt ratings given the loss of the casual viewers drawn in by a potential Triple Crown winner.
The 2011 Preakness Stakes gets underway on May 21 at Pimlico racetrack. Stay with our 2011 Preakness Stakes StoryStream for odds, contender profiles, post positions and more. To look back at the Derby, check out SB Nation's 2011 Kentucky Derby StoryStream. Also, our horse racing blog And Down The Stretch They Come has two must-read resources for Derby and Preakness fans: A Beginner's Guide To Following Horse Racing and a glossary of horse racing terms.