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Original Issue

Under Review

SMART COVERAGE A year ago, when Seabiscuit was looming on the
summer schedule, many people in the racing business were
predicting that the movie would be a powerful promotional tool.
Attendance didn't skyrocket immediately, but the Seabiscuit
effect may be just now taking hold. TV ratings for NBC's
broadcast of the Kentucky Derby were up 22%. And last Saturday,
with Smarty Jones emerging as a Seabiscuit-ish people's champ,
the Preakness scored an overnight Nielsen of 7.2, a 29% increase
over last year's race. Alas, what the audience saw wasn't
necessarily NBC's finest hour and a half: After Imperialism lost
a shoe, causing a delay of the race, reporters Kenny Rice and Bob
Neumeier asked trainer Kristin Mulhall the same question--"What
happened?"--within six minutes of each other. Still, there were a
few fine touches, including a moving feature on Robert Camac,
Smarty's first trainer, who was murdered by his stepson in 2001.
Whatever the network is planning for the June 5 Belmont, another
strong rating is certain. --S.P.