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Restart of Racing A Positive Sign for Belmont Stakes and Fox Sports

  • Fox Sports makes Triple Crown debt with heavy focus on NYRA Bets
  • Network bolstering its coverage with some of its top broadcasters
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
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Live racing resumed early Friday at Belmont Park, reviving hopes that Saturday’s 155th running of the Belmont Stakes will proceed as scheduled after air-quality issues suspended activity at the track.

The event carries significant ramifications for Fox Sports, which will now show the event after a lengthy tenure on NBC Sports. Fox Sports acquired the media rights early last year in an eight-year deal — including presenting sponsorship rights to the race for NYRA Bets, a wagering platform controlled by the New York Racing Association and 25%-owned by Fox Sports parent Fox Corp.

That more unusual structure to the rights agreement has network officials looking even more at betting activity around the race than television ratings, and NYRA Bets will be heavily promoted throughout Fox Sports’ three-and-a-half hour race coverage. 

“The most important metrics for Fox’s Belmont aren’t ratings and viewership. They’re handle and signups for NYRA Bets,” tweeted Mike Mulvihill, Fox Sports’ executive vice president and head of strategy and analytics.

Fox holds an option to boost its NYRA Bets equity stake to 49%.

The network is also demonstrating its support for its first Triple Crown race by staffing the event with some of its top broadcasters, including “Fox NFL Sunday” host Curt Menefee, “Fox NFL Kickoff” host Charissa Thompson, and reporter Tom Rinaldi.

This year’s Belmont Stakes marks the 50th anniversary of Secretariat’s record-setting victory at the race by 31 lengths, representing one of the most dominant victories ever in any sport.

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