Kentucky Derby Broadcast to Emphasize Betting More this Year

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If horse racing is the sport of kings (as it has often been described), then the royals really enjoy laying a wager or two. It’s a sport that has long been intertwined with gambling, but now with more American states legalizing sports betting, it’s a past time that is set to go more mainstream.

It doesn’t get more mainstream, in regards to American horse racing, then the Kentucky Derby, which takes place on Saturday. It was just a couple days after the 2018 Belmont Stakes that the state of New Jersey legalized sports gambling, and this is a game changer from a television production standpoint for NBC Sports.

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With the surge in Sports Betting NJ, and everywhere else in the United States, obviously the odds and betting will have a larger presence in the telecast.

“One of the takeaways I had from watching last year’s Derby show on NBC is that I don’t think we give (Chicago Blackhawks legend and NBC Sports horse racing handicapper) Eddie Olczyk enough time to really explain his selections and why he’s making those selections,” said NBC Coordinating Producer Rob Hyland on a conference call with the media today

“So we really want to give Eddie more time throughout the entire day to educate, entertain and inform the casual viewer on what goes into his decision making and give some more time to the betting in our show to have a few back-and-forths between Mike (Tirico, derby host), Jerry (Bailey, two time winner of the Kentucky Derby) and Randy (Moss, Sports Analyst).

“And then so that Edzo is not on an island, before the race for a minute, we’re going to have some dialogue that hopefully invites and engages a casual audience at home.”

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Olczyk, who has developed a sterling for reputation for picking winners in horse racing, picked the top three horses in the 2018 Kentucky Derby.

At this year’s event, Omaha Beach is the consensus favorite, with odds at +400 at most sports books. This is a horse that has clearly benefited from the presence of veteran jockey Mike E. Smith who rode Justify to a Triple Crown win a year ago.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, also contributes to Chicago NowFollow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.

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