Thoroughbred racing in New York — home of the Triple Crown’s Belmont Stakes — has received a huge boost.
FOX Sports and the New York Racing Association (NYRA) has expanded its partnership agreement that establishes FOX Sports as the official wagering partner of NYRA Bets and the leading media provider for top thoroughbred racing through the next 10 years, according to a news release.
The previous FOX Sports/NYRA media rights agreement provided a FOX Sports subsidiary with an option to acquire a 25% stake in NYRA Bets, an Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) platform launched in 2016 and available to customers in 30 states across the country. The FOX Sports subsidiary will exercise this option by the summer of 2021, pending final regulatory approval, the release said.
The new agreement, announced in late March, provides a FOX Sports subsidiary with a future opportunity to increase its equity interest in NYRA Bets. The FOX Bet NY sportsbooks platform is owned and operated by FOX Sports.
“The remarkably rapid expansion of NYRA Bets, and the digital ADW wagering marketplace, make this an ideal opportunity for FOX Sports to deepen and broaden its investment in both premier media rights and the high-growth sports wagering industry,” Michael Mulvihill, FOX Sports executive vice president/head of strategy and analytics, said in the release. “With our investment options in NYRA Bets, FOX is now uniquely positioned as the only media company with strategic stakes in digital bet-taking businesses in horse racing, sports betting, poker and online casino NY.
”We’re confident that our television partnership with NYRA will fuel continued growth for NYRA Bets in the years ahead.”
Last year, after the coronavirus pandemic interrupted live sports around the world, horse racing operated safely and continuously and it showed in NYRA Bets figures, as it generated $225 million in wagering handle, more than 100% increase compared to 2019, the release said.
What The FOX Sports-NYRA Agreement Means
The new agreement will extend FOX Sports’ television rights with NYRA through 2030 for daily racing at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. Under the new deal, FOX Sports expects to air at least 700 hours of coverage each year from Belmont Park and Saratoga and, outside of prior commitments, gives the network exclusive national broadcast rights at Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course through 2030, the release said.
NYRA will serve as the production arm for all horse racing events during the term of the partnership. The agreement does not include the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival and the Belmont Stakes, which is shown by NBC.
“FOX Sports has shown an unwavering commitment to the sport of horse racing over the past five years,” Dave O’Rourke, president and CEO of the NYRA, said in the release. “The strength of our partnership with FOX Sports, and the continued expansion of our high-quality telecasts, has proven to be hugely beneficial for the New York racing community and the sport as a whole.”
The new agreement ensures that the Travers Stakes, Saratoga’s signature race, will air on FOX through 2030.
First held in 1864, the Travers is one of the most-prestigious stakes races for 3-year-olds outside of the Triple Crown series. It is the traditional centerpiece of the annual 40-day summer meet at Saratoga. The race is named for William R. Travers, the first president of Saratoga Race Course who won the inaugural running in 1864 with a horse named Kentucky.
“NYRA is delighted to extend our relationship with FOX Sports,” Tony Allevato, president, NYRA Bets, said in the release. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with the FOX Sports team over the next decade to grow NYRA Bets while continuing to present the very best in horse racing coverage to more sports fans than ever before.”