NBC picks up Breeders' Cup from ESPN

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The Breeders' Cup, thoroughbred racing's year-end championships, will move back to NBC Sports this year, signaling ESPN's move out of horse racing coverage.

The event, which is highlighted by the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic, was broadcast by NBC from its inaugural in 1984 until 2005. ESPN and ABC carried the races the past six years.

The Breeders' Cup and the NBC Sports Group announced the move Monday as part of a multiyear rights agreement for an undisclosed sum, Sports Business Daily reported.

"Everyone here is delighted that the Breeders' Cup has returned home," said Jon Miller, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network's president of programming.

"Bringing back this prestigious event, combined with our long-term partnerships for the Triple Crown with Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, in addition to the Preakness and Belmont (Stakes), cements the NBC Sports Group as the home of horse racing."

ESPN released a statement saying the decision is based on an overall transition away from covering horse racing.

"In the last few years, ESPN has reduced its coverage of horse racing, and this event no longer fits with our overall content strategy. We value our relationship with the Breeders' Cup and jointly decided this is the best option for their event.

The most notable change this year will be the hour-long coverage of the Classic moving to prime time Saturday night.

The NBC Sports Network will broadcast all of the other races on Friday and Saturday, a total of 8-1/2 additional hours of programming.

The 2012 Breeders' Cup World Championships will be held Nov. 2-3 at Santa Anita in Southern California. The event consists of 15 races with more than $25 million in purse money at stake.

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