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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Fox Sports Makes $12M Bid For Belmont Stakes

  • Fox could take rights from rival NBC Sports as early as 2023.
  • Fox Bet sister company expected to title sponsor third leg of Triple Crown.
Michael Karas/Northjersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK

Fox Sports is poised to break into Triple Crown thoroughbred horse racing with a pending deal to acquire the Belmont Stakes media rights from NBC Sports.

Fox is expected to quadruple combined rights fees and sponsorship spending for the Belmont to $12 million, sources told Front Office Sports. 

Fox is promising an annual rights fee of $5 million vs. $3 million to renew with NBC, said sources. Sister company Fox Bet is then expected to spend an additional $7 million to title sponsor the oldest of the three Triple Crown races.

Formed in 2019, Fox Bet is a partnership between Fox Sports and Flutter Entertainment, the global gaming giant that owns FanDuel and PokerStars. 

Fox’s new deal could kick in with the 2023 Belmont Stakes, said sources, but NBC could also sell Fox rights to the 2022 race, scheduled for June 12 in Elmont, New York. 

NBC has held the rights to the Belmont since 2011. The Peacock will continue to be the exclusive home of the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. It has held those rights since 2001.

Both Fox and the New York Racing Association declined to comment. 

A spokesman for NBC Sports told FOS: “We look forward to presenting the Belmont Stakes for the 12th consecutive year next June.”

The pending deal marks a big gamble for Fox. NBC will continue to hold media rights to the two most valuable Triple Crown races. 

The Belmont, on the other hand, mostly rises in importance when a horse like American Pharoah (2015) or Justify (2018) has a chance to win the third leg of the racing’s Triple Crown.

Fox has been increasing its presence in horse racing. 

Earlier this year, Fox signed a TV deal with NYRA to televise daily racing from Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course through the year 2030. The deal also made Fox the official wagering partner of NYRA Bets.

The Belmont Stakes deal could also be a backdoor ploy by Fox Bet to score an online gaming license from the state of New York. Fox Bet was not among the nine operators recently granted a license by the Empire State to start accepting online wagers in 2022. 

Fox Bet now only operates in four states: New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Colorado. The company uses Fox Sports’ biggest stars such as Terry Bradshaw and Colin Cowherd to promote the sportsbook.

“This is a great revenue deal for [NYRA] — because Fox Bet was not going to sponsor the Belmont Stakes on NBC,” said a source. 

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