2011 summer horse racing on NBC

Congratulations to Coil for winning the Haskell Invitational , which aired on ABC.

NBC's "Summer at Saratoga" coverage, updated

NBC's "Summer at Saratoga" programming screenshot/Courtesy NBC Sports

Saratoga Saturdays and the Hambletonian

Make a date to hide out from the heat and catch some fine racing in the US Northeast on network and cable TV this summer.

Summer in Saratoga

Racing in Saratoga begins in late July and runs through Labor Day weekend. NBC Sports plans live coverage for each late Saturday afternoon – and one Sunday – during the season.

The above photo taken by cell phone camera of the screen, shows dates, stakes races covered and where they’ll be aired. If you can’t read the photo, here’s the info:

All broadcast start times will be 5 pm EDT. Checking your local listings, too, is always a good idea. All except for the Alabama and the Travers, all these Saratoga races will be aired on the cable TV channel Versus:

  • 7/23 – The Diana Stakes and the Jim Dandy – Versus
  • 8/6 –  The Whitney Handicap and the Test – Versus
  •  8/7 – The Vanderbilt Stakes – NBC
  • 8/13 – The Sword Dancer Invitational – Versus
  • 8/20 – The Alabama Stakes (for 3-year-old fillies) – NBC
  • 8/27 – The Travers Stakes (for 3-year-old colts) and the King’s Bishop Stakes – NBC
  • 9/3 – The Woodward and the Forego – Versus

I see that the broadcast network NBC took the two major races for 3-year-olds, The Alabama (for fillies) and the Travers (for colts). The Travers is known as the “mid-summer Derby.” I’m guessing that makes the Alabama the mid-summer counterpart to the Kentucky Oaks and the Black-Eyed Susan.

On Saratoga’s opening weekend under a 93-degree-F sunny day, It’s Tricky won the Coaching Club American Oaks and is expected, as of this writing, to run in the Alabama later in August.

However, Uncle Mo who smoked his peers in the 2010 Breeders Cup Juvenile but had to stay out of the Kentucky Derby due to illness won’t be starting in the Travers but will be racing on Travers Day in the King’s Bishop.

(Dear NBC Sports who we thank for bringing us horses on TV when other networks abandoned us for team sports – Please let us see Uncle Mo run as part of the Travers programming. You’ll be glad you did because Uncle Mo is a star who’ll draw an audience. Thank you. Your friends at The Horsey Set Net) (Update: YES! We’ll see The King’s Bishop.)

The Hambletonian

Anyway, NBC will run its coverage of the 2011 Hambletonian, an American classic for trotters going off with a $1.5 million purse, on Saturday, Aug. 6, at 3 pm EDT.

Here’s the website for the Hambletonian at the Meadowlands at the Meadowlands’s website. The Hambletonian Society also has a website, to help us keep up with the news.

This weekend, elimination races leading up to the Hambletonian  will weed through what blogger Frank Cotolo called the “Hambo-eligible.”

My Spideysense tells me I’m going to do a little pre-race cramming to get my knowledge up to Hambo-speed.

Big Day – August 6

Most people get all excited over Travers Day, and I do. Except we’ll have one day this summer with two different kinds of racing.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the Big Picture for horse TV on August 6.

We’ll have coverage for BOTH the Hambletonian from the Meadowlands in New Jersey and The Whitney Stakes from Saratoga. So, the Hambletonian coverage starts at 3 and then Saratoga coverage at 5, all times EDT.

Then …

The next day, Sunday 8/7, will have the running of The Vanderbilt Stakes at 5 pm. Big weekend for race fans.

So, pencil in the dates or set your Outlook Calendar to set your VDR or your VHS. We’re gonna see some fine horse racing.


  • KB Inglee
    July 27, 2011

    I would love to see the Hambletonian. As a kid I read Born to Trot, and all the other Marguirte Henry books. BTT has a story with in the story about the William Rysdik and the original Hambletonian. I don’t know if it his historical but it caught my fancy. KB

    • Rhonda Lane
      July 27, 2011

      Hi, KB, thanks for stopping by and mentioning BORN TO TROT. I’m sure I’m not the only Marguerite Henry fan who reads this blog. I managed to miss that particular book.

  • ernie
    August 7, 2011

    great idea to have laffit pincay iii to host some of the saratoga action on vs. channel. i think he’s a good handicapper/host. i had a chacne meet him once at santa anita and a very nice down to earth guy and his dad is one of the greatest jockeys of all time. laffit i hope you replace those guys on espn someday.

    where’s donna barton brothers???? i saw her yesterday on tv at the meadowlands during the hambeltonian coverage but guess she decided not to go for the saturdays at saratoga action. here’s a suggestion for nbc, how about getting christina olivares to report on the races she’s a knowledgeable reporter, analyst and host on tvg network she has a bright future so here’s a suggestion that nbc could use.

    • Rhonda Lane
      August 7, 2011

      Hi, Ernie – Donna Barton Brothers was at the Hambletonian Saturday. I expect her to be at Saratoga this Sunday, today. (yes, NBC at 5 ET) because I think she’s signing her book in the Museum of Racing. (Unless Sunday is a “author day” instead of a “TV day.”) I remember watching Pincay the elder ride. He was a tremendously talented jockey, and I like his son’s work on TV. He does an excellent job. I would like to see Christina, but my cable system doesn’t have either TVG or HRTV (yes, I live in the land of the Philistines…). I’ll have to catch her on YouTube. Anyway, thank you so much for reading and stopping by. Good luck with your picks.

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