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Run for the Roses Rates Highest in 17 Years

LOUISVILLE, KY.: The Saturday evening’s telecast of the Kentucky Derby on NBC turned in the highest rating the pony chase has generated in 17 years. Televised from 6 to 7 p.m. Eastern, the Run for the Roses scored a 10.2 rating and a 22 share among U.S. TV households, according to Nielsen overnights. It was the best performance since 1992 and a seven percent increase over last year’s thoroughbred and millinery extravaganza.

Boots on the ground were plentiful as well. Venue proprietor Churchill Downs Inc. told the Louisville Business Journalthat 153,563 folks attended the race, marking the ninth time in 135 years the crowd exceeded 150,000. Total wagers for the race were reported at nearly $105.6 million, down almost 9 percent from last year. The winning three-year-old, Mine That Bird, was a 50-to-1 long shot, returning $103.20 on a $2 bet.

The Derby is the opening parlay in the three-race Triple Crown. Post time for the second one, the Preakness at Pimlico in Baltimore, is 6:15 p.m. Eastern May 16. NBC’s coverage of that event begins at 5 p.m. The third, the Belmont Stakes in Elmont, N.Y., is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. Eastern June 6, with NBC’s coverage beginning again at 5 p.m.

There has not been a U.S. Triple Crown winner since Affirmed, sired of previous winners, took the crown in 1978. -- Deborah D. McAdams