weekend Television schedule
Although fans will not be admitted to Keeneland due to the pandemic, there is no reason to miss a stride of the action thanks to NBC Sports’ extensive coverage. Races from Future Stars Friday will be broadcast from 2-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Coverage resumes on NBCSN from 12-2:30 p.m. ET on Saturday before switching to NBC from 2:30-6 p.m ET. The world-class competition culminates in the $6 million Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic, which is likely to determine Horse of the Year.
Kenny Rice, a Kentucky native and a graduate of the University of Kentucky, will serve as a reporter for NBC at the Breeders’ Cup for the ninth consecutive year. Rice dealt with a wide range of topics during a question-and-answer session conducted by Tom Pedulla in behalf of America’s Best Racing:
PEDULLA: You were an on-site reporter for NBC at all of the Triple Crown races when they were run without fans and you will be in the same situation this weekend. What has that been like?
RICE: You know that the fans aren’t going to be there, but it’s still interesting to see that the fans aren’t there, if that makes sense. You don’t have that vibe to feed off of, which I think is important for any sporting event. However, once they go to the paddock and the riders are put in the saddle and they go to the track, the focus changes so much and it’s all about the race itself. From the standpoint of not having that vibe throughout the day, that was surreal at times. Honestly, from the reporting standpoint, it’s the easiest I’ve had getting around Churchill Downs on Derby Day.
PEDULLA: I know there had been great anticipation of the Breeders’ Cup coming to Keeneland for the second time. Is there still a buzz in Kentucky?
RICE: It’s not the same if you’re not going to be there or if you don’t know somebody who is not going to be there. When you don’t have that, in any sport I believe it does take away just a little bit. While there is excitement here because it is Kentucky and many of these horses were bred not too far from Keeneland Race Course or sold right on the grounds at Keeneland, it is a different feel this year than it was in 2015.
PEDULLA: How important is it to the state and to Keeneland that the decision was made to bring the Breeders’ Cup back to Keeneland so quickly in 2022?
RICE: I think it was huge for them and a good move by the Breeders’ Cup to give Keeneland a mulligan, and that would have been the case if it had been Santa Anita or anywhere else this year. It was not only a nice gesture, but a really smart business move as well because they know that Keeneland will do another great job and it will be a profitable venture for both.
RICE: Well, he certainly is the one to beat and it’s pretty impressive that they’ve already lined up a breeding deal with Spendthrift Farm for him. That says a lot, obviously, about the horse. They don’t just automatically do this. Having said that, we just have to go back to Storm the Court last year to know it can be unpredictable.
PEDULLA: Of the international runners, who do you think deserves the most attention?
RICE: The Turf is probably the one most people focus on, and rightfully so. I think Magical and Mogul with Aidan O’Brien – gee, isn’t it always coming back to Aidan O’Brien in a turf race? Lord North (trained by John Gosden) is another that’s coming in here. Another thing that is interesting is that it is not automatically a concession to the Europeans in some of the turf races because you’ve got Chad Brown.
PEDULLA: That leads to my next question. Who do you view as Chad’s best shot?
PEDULLA: What are your thoughts on the Distaff?
RICE: Monomoy Girl, to me, is the comeback story of the year. To miss a whole season and come back, I think she’s better than she was two years ago. And what (Ken) McPeek has done with Swiss Skydiver is absolutely brilliant.
PEDULLA: Your Distaff prediction?
RICE: I’m going to give Monomoy Girl the edge in the Distaff. Older horse. Proven horse. Monomoy Girl would be my pick for the Distaff.
PEDULLA: How about a prediction for the Classic?