Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bet on It: Smarty to Deliver Big Belmont Ratings

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Bet on It: Smarty to Deliver Big Belmont Ratings

Article excerpt

Byline: JEFF ELLIOTT, The Times-Union

NBC is anticipating record numbers for Saturday's 136th running of the Belmont Stakes, where Smarty Jones tries to become the first horse to win the Triple Crown in 26 years.

The network had strong numbers for the first two legs of the Triple Crown, with a 17-million audience for the Kentucky Derby, the second-highest Derby viewership since 1992. The Preakness delivered a 6.1 national rating two weeks ago, the highest average since 1990 and a 22 percent increase over last year's 5.0 national average.

Jacksonville has caught the racing fever, with local NBC affiliate WTLV TV-12 getting a 23 share for the Derby, the sixth highest average in the country. While the Preakness number dropped to the 18th best mark nationally, Saturday's number for the Belmont will increase, said Ken Toning, WTLV president and general manager.

"I think you'll see a big number by our station," Toning said. "There's a lot of interest and excitement about Smarty Jones winning the Triple Crown. People here like to party, like to rally and with the attention of a possible Triple Crown winner, there will be a lot of people tuning in to watch the race.

"The network has done a good job in recent years of promoting the three big races, but let's face it, nothing they do can be better than having a horse be in a position to capture the Triple Crown."

NBC will have a production arsenal of 32 cameras, including the Goodyear blimp and a production staff of 160 that will focus on everything around Belmont Park during their 90 minutes of coverage, from 5:30-7 p.m. Post time for the race is scheduled for 6:38.

Antenna delayed

WZNZ (1460 AM) had planned to install a new broadcast antenna this weekend to increase the strength and signal for the station, but those plans were put on hold when the parts to be used for the tower came up missing. …

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