Fox Grabs Belmont Stakes Away from NBCUniversal

Jockey Luis Saez riding Essential Quality crosses the finish line to win the 153rd Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York on June 5, 2021.
Essential Quality wins the 153 Belmont Stakes (Image credit: Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday RM via Getty Images)

Fox Sports said it reached an eight-year agreement with the New York Racing Association to televise the Belmont Stakes, the last leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, starting in 2023.

NBC Sports has held the rights to the Belmont Stakes since 2011. NBC Sports had televised other races on Belmont Stakes day on NBCSN, but that network was shut down at year end. The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, including dozens of thoroughbred races, also moves to Fox as part of the agreement.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The move comes at a time when TV networks and sports rights holders are looking to cash in on the growth of legalized betting in the United States

The new television deal gives NYRA Bets the title sponsorship to the Belmont Stakes. NYRA Bets is an advance-deposit wagering business currently operating in more than 30 states. It is majority-owned by NYRA, with Fox holding a 25% minority interest. Fox can increase its stake in NYRA Bets, which generated $250 million in wagering handle in 2021 and $225 million in 2020.

“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, Fox Sports executive VP, Head of Strategy and 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 has been working with NYRA since 2016. FS2 televised Saratoga Live from the Saratoga Race Course in upstate New York. In 2019, Fox Sports became the national television home for Belmont Park, airing live races in the fall and spring/summer racing season. 

Last yea,r NYRA and Fox extended their relationship.

“Fox Sports has quickly become the year-round home of the finest thoroughbred racing in the country,” Dave O’Rourke, NYRA president and CEO, 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.” ■

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.