Preakness lasts 2 minutes

to TV, it's endless

NBC race-day coverage 1 1/2 hours

Ch. 11 on for 8

Horse Racing

May 17, 2002|By Travis Haney | Travis Haney,SUN STAFF

NBC Sports' national broadcast of the Preakness tomorrow afternoon will last but an hour and a half. For producer David Michaels, though, it's guaranteed to be an ulcer-inducing 90 minutes of his television life.

"It's a 90-minute show around the two-minute race," Michaels said of the telecast, which begins at 5 p.m. for the 6:09 post. "Sometimes, it's like driving down a hill with no brakes in a school bus -- it can be scary. We just do the best we can to get out the information in an entertaining way."

That will be NBC's primary objective in the hour before the race, he said -- transmit a vast amount of information before the field is turned loose, giving more race-related news than pre-produced feature stories.

"We like to stay with the live scene and give viewers as much on the race as we can," said Michaels, who is the longtime producer of NBC's Breeders' Cup coverage and brother of ABC sportscaster Al Michaels. "A lot of people's interest in horse racing peaks during the Triple Crown. We try to tell them all there is to know so they can have a horse to root for."

Veteran broadcasters Bob Costas and Tom Hammond are hosts of the telecast. Tom Durkin will call the race.

NBC took over Triple Crown coverage from ABC last year. The network bettered ABC's 2000 Preakness rating by 56 percent, with a 6.4 national rating, the highest for the race since 1992. Each rating point, which measures the percentage of television households watching a program, represents a little more than a million viewers.

Though Michaels' work is pared to 90 minutes, local and ESPN coverage isn't as concentrated.

NBC affiliate WBAL (Channel 11) boasts eight hours of local coverage alone. The station will have a live show, led by the weekday Maryland A.M. crew, from 6 to 10 a.m., featuring various news and features from the day. A more race-related preview show will air from 1 to 5 p.m., leading up to the network coverage.

ESPN starts its day with a news and features show, Breakfast at Pimlico, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on ESPN2 and continues with live racing and news on ESPN2 at 1 p.m. Coverage shifts to ESPN at 3 p.m. for The Preakness Special.

Pimlico security tightened

The Maryland Jockey Club has joined law enforcement and other government agencies to develop security procedures for Black-Eyed Susan Day today and the 127th Preakness tomorrow at Pimlico Race Course. Included are:

All bags, purses and containers will be inspected at all public entrances to Pimlico.

Coolers, backpacks and thermoses will be permitted in the infield, where procedures will be less strict than in the grandstand. They will also be allowed in the new Turfside Terrace infield seating area.

Beverages and food items that are brought into the grandstand/clubhouse facility must be carried in clear plastic bags or clear, see-through plastic containers no larger than 18 inches by 18 inches. Coolers, backpacks and thermoses will be banned in the grandstand and clubhouse.

Ice and foam coolers will be on sale.

Uniformed security personnel will be on duty throughout the track.

On Preakness Day, gates will open at 8 a.m., with first post at 10:30 a.m. for the 13-race card.

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