FOX Sports and the New York Racing Association announced Wednesday that the network now owns the exclusive media rights to one of the jewels of the Triple Crown. FOX Sports acquired the exclusive media rights to the Belmont Stakes beginning in 2023.
The eight-year agreement with the New York Racing Association gives FOX Sports not just the Belmont Stakes, but the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, the weekend slate of races that includes such prestigious Grade 1 events as the Met Mile, the Ogden Phipps, and the Manhattan Stakes. As a result, Belmont Saturday is one of the best racing days of the year for fans and horseplayers.
As part of the deal, NYRA Bets will take over title sponsorship of the Belmont Stakes. That makes NYRA Bets, the association’s advance deposit wagering platform, the first gaming brand to become a title sponsor of an A-list American sporting event. FOX owns a 25% interest in NYRA Bets.
The organizations signed a media rights agreement in March of 2021 that gave FOX the television rights for NYRA races through 2030. It also expanded the network’s exclusivity of Belmont Park and Saratoga races, including Saratoga’s crown jewel, the Travers Stakes.
A casual summer partnership grew over time
“From Secretariat to American Pharoah, the Belmont Stakes has been racing’s greatest test of the champion and we couldn’t be prouder to bring it to FOX Sports,” said Michael Mulvihill, the network’s executive vice president and head of strategy of analytics. “The Belmont enhances FOX’s status as the industry leader in live events and is an important step in our evolution as a media and gaming brand.”
FOX Sports and NYRA joined forces in 2016, when the network began covering the Saratoga summer meet. Its “Saratoga Live” show quickly gained a following with such personalities as handicappers Andy Serling and Jonathan Kinchen, and trainer Tom Amoss. In 2019, FOX Sports took over national TV coverage at Belmont Park and aired Belmont Park’s races nearly every day.
That same year, FOX aired the Travers Stakes for the first time on its broadcast network. In 2020, FOX Sports aired more than 700 hours of racing coverage.
NBC’s near-monopoly is over
“FOX Sports has quickly become the year-round home of the finest Thoroughbred racing in the country,” NYRA president and CEO Dave O’Rourke said. “Their commitment to presenting innovative and informative coverage has had an enormous impact on reaching new fans and enhancing overall interest in the sport. That’s why NYRA is so pleased to expand our partnership to now include the Belmont Stakes on FOX for many years to come.”
Conversely, this takes the Belmont Stakes away from NBC for the first time since 2010. The network had become synonymous with elite American racing events, such as the Triple Crown races and Breeders’ Cup. It broadcast all three Triple Crown events from 1999 to 2005 when NYRA pulled the Belmont Stakes rights over a dispute over profits. ABC/ESPN aired the Belmont from 2006 to 2010 before NBC reacquired the rights.